PH secures 17M doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

By Eimor Santos, CNN Philippines

The Philippines has procured a total of 17 million doses of United Kingdom-based AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, through tripartite agreements involving the private sector and local government units.

This includes the 2.6 million doses purchased by over 30 companies and donated to the government in November 2020. For the second batch, about 300 companies and 39 LGUs from across the country pitched in for the purchase of around 14.4 million doses, officials said during a ceremonial signing on Thursday.

The doses will all be delivered this year, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said. In an earlier media briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said some are expected to arrive by July.

“This is bayanihan at work,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a recorded video message, commending the LGUs and the private firms for their support in the country’s fight against the dreaded coronavirus disease. The country is banking on the vacicne rollout to revive the economy which plunged into recession after months of community quarantine.

The Food and Drug Administration is still reviewing AstraZeneca’s application for the emergency use of its vaccines in the Philippines. The regulator has so far authorized US drug maker Pfizer.

“We’re working with Philippine FDA on the preparations for a swift yet thorough, science-led emergency use authorization review,” said Lotis Ramin, country president of AstraZeneca Philippines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed with the University of Oxford, has an average efficacy of 70%. Several LGUs have purchased AstraZeneca vaccines in advance, citing how the British company granted equitable access at an affordable rate.

“The United Kingdom is doing all it can to ensure equitable access to… safe, effective, and affordable vaccines which have been developed transparently,” British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said.

The national government also said it has sealed deals for 30 million doses of Covovax from the Serum Institute of India and 25 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines.

Total doses secured by the country could rise to 137 million doses this month, if the contracts with vaccine makers will be signed as planned.

The government expects 50,000 doses from Sinovac to be the first to arrive in the country in February, but Pfizer’s vaccine could be rolled out earlier if the global COVAX facility would grant the Philippines’ appeal, officials said.

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