Pharma firms should obtain bivalent COVID vaccine registration --- Concepcion

Despite its decision to no longer buy bivalent vaccines against Covid-19, the private sector will continue to press for pharmaceutical companies to apply for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) to make the vaccines available to the public.

Coronavirus vaccines have been prepared for distribution at a vaccination site in Manila on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said this after the Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Rosario Vergeire appealed to the private sector to refrain from procuring Covid-19 vaccines as this may lead to more wastage.

"The private sector will no longer buy bivalent vaccines. This is not anymore in step with the waning demand because people believe they already have natural immunity," he said.

"What we are saying is that the pharmaceutical companies should be encouraged to apply for CPRs so they can be made available to the public, the same way that vaccines for pneumonia and shingles are readily available at the pharmacies," he added.

Concepcion assured Vergeire that although there will not be any private sector procurements soon, he hopes that before the end of the year, the Covid-19 vaccine can become one of the regular vaccines in the country.

"What we are looking at is the situation down the road, when we will need to renew our booster shots as we do for the flu, and this is when people should have access to the Covid-19 vaccines," he said.

"We see this happening toward the end of the year, and maybe this will be a time when people will pay for their vaccines, and the government doesn't need to buy it anymore," he added.

On Feb. 6, Vergeire noted that around 26 million Covid-19 vaccines remain unused, with approximately 16 million doses in the national warehouse, while 10 million are already distributed to various local government units. This is in addition to the 24 million doses that have already expired.

"We are in a good place right now, but that doesn't mean CPR is no longer needed," Concepcion said.

"I think they are looking at one million vaccines, and that is good enough because we are seeing waning interest in the vaccines because people believe they have natural immunity already," he added.