MVP eyes stake in vaccine project, says Glovax CEO

Published April 19, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is keen on investing in a proposed vaccine manufacturing in the country, according to a top executive of Glovax Biotech Corp., one of the proponents for a Philippine COVID-19 vaccine plant.

MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan

Giovanni Alingog, president of Glovax – one of the four vaccine manufacturing project proponents identified by the Department of Trade and Industry as already in the advanced planning stage, said that the chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has committed to invest in their proposed P7.5 billion vaccine manufacturing project. 

“MVP said in our zoom meeting yesterday that he is agreeing to support Glovax vaccine plant as a lasting support to the Filipinos and in support to Pres. Duterte in his fight against Coved,” said Alingog.  

When asked on Pangilinan’s commitment level, Alingog said the businessman instructed them not to look for other investors anymore. “He is serious. He said to tell Pres. Duterte already that he is supporting our Glovax vaccine plant in support of the government’s effort against COVID and support to Pres. Duterte,” he said in text exchanges.

Under its initial plan, Alingog said that private investors together with its technology partner EuBiologics of Korea can put up P5 billion and loans of P2 billion.

The National Development Co. (NDC), the investment arm of the Board of Investments (BOI), could chip in P500 million as government equity. He said they will meet again with the BOI on Friday, April 23, to discuss the proposed memorandum of understanding for NDC’s stake.

But after meeting with MVP, Alingog said the entire P7.5 billion estimated investment for its proposed integrated vaccine manufacturing facility can easily be funded by MVP alone.

He said he would push for a memorandum of agreement with the MVP Group to facilitate the forging of an investment agreement or a joint venture deal, which he expects to be finalized in two months.

Earlier, he said they were already applying with the Food and Drug Administration for an EUA (emergency use authority) for EuCorVac-19 of Eubiologics from South Korea.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that Glovax Biologic is one of the four vaccine firms identified by the BOI. According to Lopez, Glovax targets to start operation of a form/fill and finish facility in October 2022. Glovax has also proposed to locate its facility in Clark.

The three other vaccine projects proponents are Filipino-owned United Laboratories (Unilab), the leading pharmaceutical company in Southeast Asia, IG/IP Biotech, and Dr. Zen Biotech Inc. 

On April 14, Lopez reported during the President Duterte’s “Talk to the Nation” that if Unilab is able to conclude a partnership with a technology provider by 2022, the Campos-owned company can start operation of a form, fill, and finish plant by 2023.

Lopez said that Unilab has been confirmed to do local vaccine manufacturing in the country starting with the COVID-19 with plans to also export to other ASEAN countries.

IG/IP Biotech has also proposed to produce COVID-19 vaccines as well as influenza multivalent vaccines and pneumococal polyvalent vaccines. It seeks a memorandum of understanding with the government’s investment arm National Development Co. and the Board of Investments. It plans to conduct phase 3 clinical trials in the country. 

Dr. Zen Biotech Inc. has a proposal for the production of 2nd generation recombinant vaccine for COVID-19, monoclonal antibodies and general injectables with potential technology providers from India and China. It is also looking for possible partnership with Moderna and J & J.

It has a project cost of $20 million for phase one and another $20 million for the phase 2. The company is also scheduled for a meeting with IP/IG Biotech next week, April 20.

The company has proposed to set up a form/fill facility in the First Bulacan Industrial Estate complete with class 100 biotech sterile R&D. The design and construction of the plant is ongoing and is expected to start operation by 2022.

Lopez also informed Duterte that the vaccine project proponents are requesting for “greenlane” or no red tape in the processing of government permits. “They will subscribe to all requirements and submit documents but they require faster processing,” said Lopez.

In addition, the vaccine manufacturers also require that government will procure their locally produced vaccines, subject to standards, specifications and prices. 

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena also reported to the President that they are already meeting with the DTI, Department of Budget and Management, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Diseases Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to craft a program to fulfill  President Duterte’s desire to establish a vaccine manufacturing facility in the country as his legacy before he steps down from office in June 2022.

The group came up with a program called “Vaccine Self Reliant Philippines”, which called for the establishment of a Virology Science and Technology Institute. This body will conduct research for new vaccine platform. 

The proposed plan though is a Philippine vaccine facility that is not only for humans but also for other viruses that attack livestock and crops such as vaccines against the African Swine Flu.