COVID-19

PH vaccine czar Galvez heads to India as supply, deliveries still uncertain

Sofia Tomacruz
PH vaccine czar Galvez heads to India as supply, deliveries still uncertain

OFF TO INDIA. PH vaccine czar Galvez heads to India to sign supply agreements and negotiate earlier deliveries for vaccines developed by Novavax and AstraZeneca.

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Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr says the government wants to close deals with the Serum Institute of India for vaccines developed by Novavax and AstraZeneca

With the timeline and supply of coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines still uncertain, Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said on Monday, March 1, that he will be traveling to India to finalize agreements with several vaccine manufacturers. 

Galvez made the announcement on Monday, saying a trip to India from March 9 to 12 was planned to sign supply agreements and negotiate earlier deliveries for vaccines developed by Novavax and AstraZeneca. 

Vaccines developed by Novavax and AstraZeneca is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. 

Aside from this, Galvez said supply agreements to be finalized in the coming days include those with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers whom the Philippines was in talks with. The country wanted to purchase about 20 million doses from Moderna and 5 million doses from Johnson & Johnson. 

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Why this matters

While the Philippines officially began rolling out vaccines on Monday, it has yet to sign a supply agreement that would guarantee vaccine doses for Filipinos. The country’s inoculation campaign was launched with 600,000 Sinovac doses donated by the Chinese government after these arrived in the Philippines on Sunday, February 28. 

Supply agreements with Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, and AstraZeneca could secure for Filipinos access to at least 72 million more doses in the coming months. These would be enough to vaccinate at least 24 million Filipinos who are part of the government’s priority sector. 

This includes frontline health workers, senior citizens, indigent populations, and other frontline and uniformed personnel. Aside from these groups, individuals with co-morbidities are also part of the priority sectors who will be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines. 

Galvez said building a vaccine stockpile is also crucial if the Philippines were to relax quarantine restrictions and resume face-to-face classes in May or the 2nd quarter of 2021.

If the Philippines could close deals for vaccines with these companies, the government would have a stockpile of around “10 million” doses, which would meet President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier condition to have at least two million vaccine doses on standby before he agrees to “open the economy.” 

The Philippines is among the last countries in Southeast Asia to start its COVID-19 vaccine rollout despite also being among the worst affected nations in the region. – Rappler.com

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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.