Philippines eyes 30 million doses of Novavax vaccine

Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr is optimistic about negotiations to secure 30 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by American firm Novavax.

In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, December 21, Galvez told the President that the Serum Institute of India promised to set aside 30 million doses of the vaccine for the Philippines.

The Serum Institute has signed a manufacturing agreement with Novavax to manufacture one billion doses of the company's vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, in 2021.

There is no concrete date yet on what the 30 million doses will arrive. It would also still depend on whether or not regulatory agencies of the US, UK, or others will approve the vaccine for emergency use.

Galvez said he recently spoke with the institute's representative and he will meet with him again on Wednesday, December 23.

"Siya po ay na-ano po, makakausap po namin siya this coming December 23 at nag-assure po siya na magbibigay po siya ng 30 million doses para po sa atin. Iyon po ay ‘yung Novavax," said the vaccine czar.

(We will speak with him this coming December 23 and he gave assurances that he can give 30 million doses for us. This is Novavax.)

Novavax is still conducting Phase 3 clinical trials for its vaccine in the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico. It has not published any efficacy rate yet.

Galvez said the government is only waiting for the UK to issue authorization of the Novavax vaccine before signing a contract for the 30 million doses, possibly by the end of the year.

If these doses are secured, 20 million will go to local government units while 10 million will go to the private sector.

Galvez also said Serum Institute may agree not to ask for advance payments for the Novavax vaccines.

"Lately, sir, I spoke with the country representative of Serum India Institute and he said, sir, if I tell you he can comply with RA 9184 (the Government Procurement Act), he is now talking to their head office so that they won't ask for cash advance," Galvez told Duterte.

When will Novavax vaccine get to the Philippines?

Galvez did not give any specific date on when he hopes the Novavax vaccine will get to the country. But he said 60 million doses of vaccines from a variety of developers will arrive in 2021.

"So all in all, if we have a signing of contract this coming month, we will have 60 million [doses] for the 2nd and 3rd quarter," said Galvez.

Though the government is yet to sign any deal for a vaccine save for 3 million AstraZeneca doses paid for by private companies, Galvez has said he expects the Sinovac vaccine from China to arrive the earliest, in March next year. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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