The Philippines will sign Friday a deal to purchase 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.
“This coming Friday (November 27), pipirma po tayo ng tripartite agreement kung saan tayo po ay makakabili ng 2 milyong doses ng bakuna mula sa AstaZeneca ng United Kingdom,” Galvez, who also serves as chief implementer of the National COVID-19 Task Force, said during a Thursday briefing.
He added that the initial deal is brokered with the help of the private sector.
AstraZeneca requires two doses per person. It is said to be 70% effective in preventing infections.
On Tuesday, ports operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. said it will help fund the purchase of vaccines together with other businesses, with half of the doses to be given to private sector workers while the rest will be turned over to the Department of Health.
“Ini-negotiate po natin… Iyong 2.2 million (doses), ito iyong private money at ongoing pa po ‘yung negotiation pa rin po natin sa AstraZeneca. Ang deadline po natin is this November,” Galvez said, referring to the 20 million doses targeted by the Philippines from the UK drug maker.
[Translation: We will negotiate this… These 2.2 million (doses) were acquired using private money and our negotiations are still ongoing with AstraZeneca. Our deadline is this November.]
The task force is looking to administer vaccines to at least 60 million Filipinos to achieve herd immunity, where virus transmissions will be limited. Galvez earlier said that a number of provinces will receive different types of vaccine, which will be chosen with logistics in mind.
The vaccination program will last for three to five years for the more than 100 million Filipinos.
AstraZeneca is seen to have an advantage compared to other vaccines as these can be stored and remain stable in temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. In comparison, Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at around minus 75 degrees Celsius, which will need special freezer trucks and storage facilities – something expected to cost twice the value of the actual vaccines.
Vaccine experts in the United States have questioned the reported efficacy of AstraZeneca, saying it did not include data that led to this conclusion. Clinical trials were put on hold twice because government regulators were concerned about two study participants who became seriously ill.
In Bazil, a volunteer for the experimental vaccine died, but few details were released about the conditions of the patient, such as if the person received a real or placebo shot. Regulators later allowed the trial to resume.