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Philippines in talks with AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac for 60M doses of COVID-19 vaccines

The Philippines may have 60 million doses of the vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by 2021 if negotiations with vaccine manufacturers are successful, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.

Galvez said the Philippine government was in talks with vaccine manufacturers Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.

“Just in case na makuha po natin ‘yung tatlong ito, makakabuo po tayo ng 60 million next year, so ibig sabihin meron na po tayo na magandang mga vaccine na nakita natin na safe, cost effective, at saka po… maganda ang kanilang performance,” Galvez said in a briefing presided by President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night.

AstraZeneca has a huge quota of 20 million doses and has the lowest price at $5 per dose, Galvez added. 

As the government negotiates with manufacturers, experts are reviewing data from the candidate vaccines’ clinical trials.

The Department of Science and Technology earlier said clinical trials in the Philippines might start in December.

Vaccine distribution plan

Galvez said the government would employ a geographical and sectoral approach to vaccine distribution once it becomes available in the country.

“Gagawin po nating geographical, meaning ang deployment po ng vaccine para doon po sa mga infected at saka ‘yung mga epicenter,” he said. “From geographical, magiging sectoral," Galvez said.

"Meaning, kung sino ‘yung priority natin… ‘yun po, meron pong impact ‘yun kagad sa ating economy," he added.

Under the geographical strategy, Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod will be prioritized.

“‘Yung mga tinaaman po mabigat ng COVID para at least ang mangyayari po kaagad, malalaman po yung efficacy niya,” Galvez said.

He added that the British government has expressed willingness to help the Philippines in the distribution of the AstroZeneca vaccine once it is rolled out.

“Handa po sila na kapag nag-rollout po ‘yung kanilang [vaccine] doon sa British government, pupunta po dito ‘yung mga military at saka ‘yung mga logistics personnel po nila para tulungan po tayo mag-roll out din dito,” he said.

Herd immunity

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said P73.2 billion has been allotted for the procurement of vaccines for 60 million Filipinos.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this will be enough to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19.

“Ang herd immunity po is anywhere from 60 to 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization. So if we’re able to reach that, we’re going to pretty much arrest the spread of this and mawawala yung COVID-19 sa atin pong lipunan,” he said.

Malacanang earlier said the government had already prepared the initial list of vaccine recipients.

The Philippines has tallied 420,614 infections with 386,604 recoveries and 8,173 deaths as of Monday afternoon. -NB, GMA News