Philippines signs deal today with UK vaccine maker

27-Nov-2020 Intellasia | PhilStar | 1:04 PM Print This Post

An agreement for the purchase of two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca is scheduled to be signed today, the chief implementer of the government’s pandemic policy said.

National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday said the agreement is a product of discussions between the government, the private sector, pharmaceutical firms and embassies of different countries.

Aside from this, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion is also leading the private sector efforts to procure between 2.5 million to 3 million doses of the vaccine in an effort to augment the government’s separate procurement initiatives.

The tripartite agreement will be signed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines president Lotis Ramin, Galvez and Concepcion, who is representing the private sector, at the JoeCon Hall of the RFM Corporate Center. The representatives from the signatory companies will participate via Zoom conference.

“We are happy to report that the discussions have borne fruit and… we will sign a tripartite agreement to buy two million doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom. The private sector is part of this and will donate,” Galvez said at a press briefing.

He added that the government would also negotiate with AstraZeneca for the possible procurement of additional doses.

“We will negotiate (for the possible purchase of vaccines using) public money. The 2.2 million (doses) involves private money and the negotiations with AstraZeneca are ongoing. Our deadline is this November… We still have strategies to continue the 20 million access to AstraZeneca,” Galvez revealed.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the agreement, which seeks to ensure equitable access to vaccines, would help strengthen the partnership between the public and the private sectors against COVID-19.

“They (private sector) will co-share in the responsibility (to protect) the economy by vaccinating their own people and their own stakeholders, especially the laborers with small wages that the President mentioned. We will prioritize them in the vaccination,” Roque said.

Galvez said while efforts to ensure vaccine access are underway, the public should continue to observe health standards.

On Wednesday, he said the realistic timeline for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines is at the end of next year or early 2022 while the best-case scenario is the second quarter of 2021.

The government is planning to borrow P73.2 billion from multilateral lenders, domestic and bilateral sources to buy vaccines for 60 million Filipinos. The vaccination program may take three to five years.

Roque also assured the public that there would be no politics in the distribution of vaccines.

“If you look at the vaccine roadmap, (it) will last for three to five years. It’s beyond political color; it’s beyond political years of the election,” he said. “If there is politics… the President would not give vaccines to his rivals… but the President is not like that. Everyone needs a vaccine and it will be given to everyone.”

Not left behind

Concepcion said the efforts to secure the vaccines are aimed at ensuring that Filipinos are not left behind.

“We’re targeting 2.5 million to 3 million doses which will help 1.5 million people in the upper end of the range since the vaccine requires two doses. We want to ensure that the Philippines will not be left behind when the vaccines come out in 2021,” Concepcion said, adding that the deal has an estimated value of P600 million to P700 million.

The private sector is working closely with Galvez who is leading the separate government-led discussions with pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca has a zero-profit program for 2021, which means the vaccines are priced as low as possible and is estimated to cost around P500 ($10) for two doses, which is cheaper than regular testing methods.

Concepcion explained that the vaccines would be donated to the Department of Health (DOH), which will handle the deployment.

Half of the donations will be set aside for government frontliners, while the other half will cover employees in the private sector – both regular and contractual.

“Sec. Galvez called on the private sector to take care of its own flock provided that we follow the priority sectors of frontliners and the poorest of the poor,” Concepcion noted.

He added that Go Negosyo will purchase 70,000 doses of the vaccine for MSMEs which will cover 35,000 people.

As of yesterday, the COVID-19 cases in the country totaled 424,297 with the addition of 1,392 new cases.

The DOH also reported that 91.3 percent or 387,266 of the total number of cases have recuperated from the infection. Active cases stand at 28,789 or 6.8 percent of the total.


Category: Philippines

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