NDC explores investment in vaccine manufacturing

Published December 5, 2022, 5:23 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The National Development Company (NDC), the government investment arm attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said it is currently exploring collaborations for potential investments in the establishment of a fill and finish facilities, and eventually bulk vaccine production plants.

In its website post, NDC recognized that given the Covid-19 pandemic, the government and private entities recognized the urgent need to establish a local vaccine manufacturing facility in the country.

“This does not only ensure that necessary vaccines are readily available when needed since there is a guaranteed local source, but also enables the country to achieve self-sufficiency and less reliance on importation and external supply availability,” NDC said.

With this, NDC said it has ongoing discussions with Department of Science and Technology, Board of Investments and the private sector, among others, to explore potential collaborations in establishing fill and finish facilities, and eventually, bulk vaccine production plants.

During the Nov. 29-30 ASEAN Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Research Project Technical Regional Consultative Workshop in Bali Indonesia, Filipino vaccine distribution firm Glovax Biotech Corp. manifested its interest of pursuing the country’s the first ever working vaccine plant in partnership with the Philippine government and become an active participant in the ASEAN Vaccine Security and Self-Reliance (AVSSR) program.

The Consultative Workshop was organized by the World Bank and International Finance Corp. (IFC), and in cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Indonesia, which was attended by regional health and finance Ministers, head of Food and Drug Administrations (FDA), senior policy makers, and private companies. The conference aims to share the preliminary findings from ASEAN policy makers and health sector agencies about its support to the vaccine security initiative in partnership with private sector contributing to vaccine research and manufacture, seek guidance on priority actions over next 5 – 10 years to realize the vision as endorsed by the region’s leaders during the 34th ASEAN Summit held in 2019, and identify concrete actions to foster ASEAN regional coordination on vaccine security among governments and private sector actors.

Presentation at the ASEAN conference showed that four ASEAN countries already have vaccine plants – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Glovax CEO Giovanni Alingog said they have secured the commitment of the DTI to spearhead the production of different vaccines locally including the Covid vaccine with the investment of the NDC through Glovax’s parent company Glovax Lifescience Corp. Glovax plans to ground break in February 2023.

He said that a bilateral Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Glovax Lifescience Corp. (GLC) and the NDC is now being finalized after the tripartite MOU was recently signed.

Alingog also said they are in talks with other potential foreign investors such as USAID, Development Finance Corp. (DFC), International Finance Corp. (IFC), and IIX of Singapore.

Alingog noted that while there were six Philippine companies vying to put up the first ever vaccine plant, Glovax Biotech is the only company with a tripartite agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the NDC for a seed funding to jumpstart the project. Glovax has already presented its feasibility study to the NDC General Manager Antonio D. Mauricio during its meeting last November 14, 2022 at the NDC building.

It intends to collaborate with other international tech transfer partners and funders to fully construct the fully integrated vaccine plant which will produce vaccines that are 100 percent imported by the DOH. The vaccine plant construction will also be in phases starting with the fill and finish which it hopes to start in January 2023 and to produce vaccines within 2 years or by 2025, according to Alingog.

Meantime, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has allocated a five-hectare land in New Clark City for the construction of the proposed Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

The lot has been identified and earmarked under an agreement signed by the BCDA and DOST, bringing the government one step closer towards the formation of the country’s premier virology research institute that will strengthen our wall of protection against infectious diseases.

The VIP complex shall comprise the following: administration building, lecture hall, good manufacturing product building, human and animal virology laboratory, plant virology laboratory, animal isolation, Biosafety Level 3 and 4 laboratory building, plant cultivation area, dormitory, power station, and a sewage treatment plant.

In view of the health sector’s emerging needs brought about by COVID-19, the VIP has been a priority of the Marcos administration, along with the proposed Centers for Disease Control, due to their importance in boosting the Philippines’ capacity in dealing with current and future pandemics.