6 companies eye opening vaccine manufacturing hubs in PH: official

17-Apr-2021 Intellasia | ABS-CBN | 5:02 AM Print This Post

At least 6 companies are planning to establish vaccination manufacturing facilities in the Philippines in the next few years as the country continues its push to become “vaccine self-reliant,” an official said Thursday.

It may take at least 2 years before a vaccination production hub may open in the country, said Rowena Cristina Guevara, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development.

“Ang matagal diyan is ‘yung pag-decide ng mga principals if they are going to choose the Philippines for vaccine manufacturing,” she said.

(What takes long is the decision of their principals if they are going to choose the Philippines for vaccine manufacturing.)

“Some of them medyo malinaw na ang gagawin. May mga announcements na gagawin in the next few months,” she said, but declined to name specific companies due to non-disclosure agreements.

(Some of them have clear plans already. Announcements will be made in the next few months.)

Of the 6 companies, one is a “distributor of a South Korean company,” while another has “extensive facilities in Asia” and is planning to partner with a foreign brand where “all the vaccines we need are being manufactured,” the Undersecretary said.

One firm is connected with a German vaccine developer, another is a “long-term partner of a Chinese vaccine producer” and there is also a group which is planning to partner with a US pharmaceutical company, she said.

Another firm is planning to “start their local vaccine manufacturing venture with a fill-and-finish facility,” she said.

Of the 6 companies, one is a “distributor of a South Korean company,” while another has “extensive facilities in Asia” and is planning to partner with a foreign brand where “all the vaccines we need are being manufactured,” the Undersecretary said.

One firm is connected with a German vaccine developer, another is a “long-term partner of a Chinese vaccine producer” and there is also a group which is planning to partner with a US pharmaceutical company, she said.

Another firm is planning to “start their local vaccine manufacturing venture with a fill-and-finish facility,” she said.

Fill-and-finish plants are quicker to assemble and operate as the antigen will be delivered to the country and assembled as injectibles, Guevara said, noting that these facilities can manufacture some 40 million jabs annually.

“Meron kaming nakikita na 2 companies na mabilis, agresibo sila. If they pursue their plans, parang kaya nila mag-produce ng vaccine by late 2022,” she said.

(We saw 2 companies that are quick and aggressive. If they pursue their plans, they can produce vaccines by late 2022.)

These proposed manufacturing facilities will not just produce COVID-19 jabs, but also injectables against rubella, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, she said.

PERKS AND TAX HOLIDAYS

The Philippines is willing to give these companies “5 or 6 years of income tax holiday,” Guevara said.

Companies that will manufacture vaccines in the Philippines will also be given preferential treatment in public procurements thanks to several laws mandating the government to prioritise local firms in biddings, she said.

“All things being equal, kapag kinompare mo ‘yung 2 bids, locally manufactured versus foreign manufactured, kahit mas mahal by 15 percent ‘yung locally, siya ‘yung mananalo sa bidding,” she said.

(All things being equal, if you compare 2 bids, locally manufactured versus foreign manufactured, even if the local bid is 15 percent more expensive, it will still win the bidding.)

Congress is also working on the Pandemic Procurement Bill which will allow the government to buy pandemic-related products from local companies even if it is priced 20 percent higher than foreign-made options, she said.

“We need an enabling environment that would enable this industry to flourish,” she said, noting that the Philippines has “zero” vaccine factories at the moment.

The Philippines halted the operations of a public vaccine factory in 2015 as the “circumstances were not ideal,” the Undersecretary said.

“There was a time na advanced na tayo, nakakapag manufacture na tayo ng vaccines, but in 2011 or 2012, they needed to upgrade their facility… [but] the project was not continued,” she said.

(There was a time that we were advanced, we were producing vaccines, but in 2011 or 2012, they needed to upgrade their facility… [but] the project was not continued.)

“‘Yung kailangan nilang persons, ‘yung budget requirement kulang na kulang,” she said.

(The persons they needed, the budget requirement was very insufficient.)

The project was terminated in 2015, she said.

“Mahirap i-pursue dahil napakamahal nitong facilities na ito,” she said, noting that one vaccine manufacturing plant may cost the government billions of taxpayers’ money.

(It is difficult to pursue because these facilities are very expensive.)

Guevara said it would be better to hand over the initiative to the private sector.

“The government’s priorities, sometimes they change depending on the administration so the sustainability is difficult to guarantee,” she said.

“The private sector, as long as there is a market, they are going to be sustainable,” she said.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/15/21/6-companies-eye-opening-vaccine-manufacturing-hubs-in-ph-official

 

Category: Philippines

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