Almost a done deal with AstraZeneca for 20M vaccines

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The Philippine government is all set to sign another deal, this time with British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca for 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The announcement came after the government secured procurement contracts with biopharmaceutical companies from China and India.

At the Laging Handa press briefing, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. said that the contract assuring the Philippines of another 20 million vaccine doses would be signed January 14.

“After the signing tomorrow, magkakaroon ng tripartite supply agreement na pipirmahan ng national government, LGU (local government units), and vaccine maker. Ang responsibility ng LGU ay to administer the vaccines,” Galvez said.

“Iyong supply chain requirement, syringe, lahat ng consumables, integrated po ang efforts ng LGUs, national government, at private sector. Kung ang isang LGU po ay 30 percent lang ang mabibili [na bakuna gamit ang kanilang budget], national government po ang magpupuno nu’ng 70 percent,” he added.

The AstraZeneca deal brings to 75 million vaccines the total number of doses that the Philippines is guaranteed to have, including those coming from China and from India.

The figure, however, does not include the 2.6 million doses funded by the private sector and donated to the Philippine government that was earlier sealed.

AstraZeneca, which developed and produced vaccines proven at least 90-percent effective after human trials, has already secured emergency use authorization (EUA) from the United Kingdom regulators. Likewise, the British firm also applied for EUA before the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week.

Unlike other pioneering COVID-19 vaccines made by American firms Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which were proven at least 95 percent effective after human trials but require vaccine storage of -20 degrees to -70 degrees Celsius to preserve efficacy, AstraZeneca’s product is more appealing to developing countries with limited resources since it is cheaper at only US$ 5 per dose or just around P500. It also only requires basic storage temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. 

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