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Galvez: Philippines negotiating with 4 companies for possible COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

The Philippines is negotiating with four manufacturers that could supply COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.

Galvez did not identify the manufacturers, although he said Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is willing to donate 500,000 booster doses for medical workers.

“We are now negotiating with four manufacturers [and] most possibly they can supply the boosters that we will be needing either by the end of the fourth quarter or early first quarter [of 2022],” the government’s vaccine czar said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

“They are formulating boosters that can withstand the different variants.”

Galvez said they are just waiting for the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, and the vaccine expert panel.

“We are just looking for that cue. For as long as they say that we need boosters, we can already make some sort of arrangements,” Galvez said. ”We are looking at the possibility of signing a non-binding term sheet in order to lock in boosters.”

The Duterte administration has requested for standby authority from Congress to buy P45.367 billion worth of booster doses next year.

Last week, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said evidence supporting booster doses remains “minimal” and incomplete, although “we already have saved money for our booster shots for 2022 if ever it is approved.”

The WHO, meanwhile, said evidence still does not support the use of booster doses as further research is needed. — Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News