COVID-19 vaccines

Philippines eyes deals for at least 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2022

Sofia Tomacruz
Philippines eyes deals for at least 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2022

VACCINATION. About 2,000 residents of Sampaloc, Manila, line up to receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. says the doses to be purchased will mostly cover supplies needed for booster shots

The Philippine government is in talks with manufacturers for the purchase of at least 90 million coronavirus vaccine doses needed in 2022, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Sunday, November 28.

Philippines eyes deals for at least 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 2022

Galvez told reporters in a press briefing that the doses will mostly cover booster shots, while vaccines to be used for first and second doses – known as a primary series – will come from supplies purchased through deals secured in 2021.

The government is expecting “more or less 70 million doses” from its orders in 2021 to be carried over into 2022.

Among the vaccine manufacturers the Philippines is engaged in talks with for 2022 are AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the Gamaleya Research Institute.

Galvez said the government is also expecting its order of 30 million doses from American drug firm Novavax, which recently secured emergency approval in the Philippines. 

Similar to its financing scheme in 2021, Galvez said the government plans to pay for vaccines using both government funds and loans from multilateral lenders like the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

“What we will do is similar to our previous acquisitions, considering these negotiations had good results because we were able to get the vaccines at a very, very low price,” Galvez said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

Ongoing deliberations on the proposed 2022 national budget have seen lawmakers allot P45.37 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 booster shots for Filipinos – an amount that would allow the government to give one more dose at an estimated cost per dose of P544 for around 83.4 million Filipinos.

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Open to tripartite deals

Galvez said the government will also remain open to tripartite deals in the coming year, after deals involving local government units (LGUs) and the private sector delivered favorable results.

“The preference of the manufacturer is to have bilateral [negotiations], but we will be open,” he said. 

Under tripartite deals signed between the government, drug firms, and LGUs or private businesses, the Philippines pooled orders for vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Novavax, among others. 

But to date, negotiations have been on a bilateral basis, Galvez said, adding that the setup is simpler because it allows the government and drug firms to manage orders in bulk as opposed to several smaller orders.

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Vaccination targets

The Philippines is targeting to vaccinate at least 50% of its population in 2021, including 80% of the 12.7 million minors aged 12 to 17 years old. It also wants to finish administering booster shots to 1.6 million health workers and some 5 to 8 million senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities by the end of the year.

Aside from this, Galvez said 5- to 11-year-olds may also become eligible for the vaccine by the end of 2021 or early 2022 as the government is encouraging manufacturers to apply for emergency approval.

Following this, Galvez said health officials want to see 70% of the population vaccinated by the May 2022 elections, and some 90% by mid-2022.

Nearly nine months after the Philippines started its vaccination drive on March 1, about 32% of the population has been fully vaccinated, while another 41% have received the first of two doses. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.