PH gov’t working on deals with more COVID-19 vaccine makers – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   December 28, 2020   •   572

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is working on deals to secure more supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses from other pharmaceutical companies by next year, the country’s vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

Galvez made the remark on Saturday as he refuted accusations that the government is “focusing only on few vaccine sources.”

He stressed that aside from AstraZeneca, the country is also negotiating with India’s NovaVax, America’s Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, Russia’s Gamaleya, and China’s Sinovac.

“It is a portfolio. Basically, ang mauuna sir is AstraZeneca ‘yung magiging contract natin,” he told President Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and health experts in Malacañang.

“Next is ang Novavax from Serum of India; next is Pfizer; and then maybe Johnson & Johnson. We have also the discussion of the head of terms and also the supply agreement and also with Moderna; and then followed by Gamaleya and also the Sinovac.”

Galvez said the government might have contracts with Novavax Inc. and Pfizer Inc. by January. It is also has initial arrangement for 20 million doses with Moderna.

“So all in all sir if we will get Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, J&J, and also Moderna, we might have more or less 80 million doses. And also recently, Gamaleya of Russia also negotiated for another 25 million,” he told Duterte.

Currently, Philippine authorities are asking Gamaleya for its third phase clinical trial information, Galvez said, hoping to secure a deal with the Russian vaccine maker also by January at the earliest.

The government is working to secure 20 million and 10 million doses for the government and private sector, respectively.

Galvez said the government may start inoculation for COVID-19 in May next year at the earliest, as it secures substantial vaccine doses intended for the government and the private sector.

The Philippine government earlier said that frontline health workers will be the first priority in the vaccine distribution followed by senior citizens, poor Filipinos and uniformed personnel.

It is looking to roll out its COVID-19 immunization program starting next year, and to administer it to at least 70 million Filipinos within three to five years.

Marikina Mayor expresses concern over low turnout of health workers on Day-2 of COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro has expressed concern over the low turnout of healthcare workers (HCW) during the second day of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

From the 1,500 frontline workers from the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center (ARMMC) who were pre-qualified to receive the vaccine, only 130 actually got vaccinated on Tuesday (March 2) at the Marikina Sports Center.

Teodoro said several health workers changed their minds to wait for the next batch of vaccines that will arrive in the country.

He also said he was willing to get vaccinated first to boost the confidence of health workers in Marikina; however, he was declined.

Testing Czar Vince Dizon said mayors are not yet permitted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine since it will be allotted for frontline health workers.

Mababa ngayon ang reception, mababa ang tiwala. Iyong marami kapag tinatanong mo, ang sa sinasabi nila, gusto nilang magpabakuna pero gusto nilang makatiyak sa kaligtasan nito (There is low reception, low confidence. Most of them say they would want to get vaccinated if its safety is assured),” Teodoro said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Duterte to wait for FDA approval before using Sinopharm vax – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will wait for China-state-owned Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before receiving a dose, his spokesperson said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after the FDA confirmed that it has received Sinopharm’s application for an EUA that was filed on Monday afternoon.

“Mag-aantay po si president ng EUA dahil nabalita ko nga kahapon, mayroon na pong nag-apply ng EUA for the Sinopharm,” Roque said in a press briefing.

Securing an EUA from the FDA is part of the process for a vaccine to be legally used in the country.

The FDA earlier approved a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for the members of the Presidential Security Group.

The agency, however, clarified that the issuance of such a permit is not tantamount to a stamp of approval.

Duterte earlier expressed a preference for Sinopharm developed COVID-19 vaccines. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gatchalian volunteers to be inoculated with Sinovac vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   March 2, 2021

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said he has volunteered to receive the COVID-19 vaccine shot developed by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech in a bid to address vaccine hesitancy.

In a statement, Gatchalian said he is willing to be inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac if allowed under the government’s prioritization framework for the nationwide immunization campaign.

“Alam ko may prioritization tayo ngayon. Kung hindi naman lalabag dito, I would volunteer to be vaccinated by Sinovac. This is to show to the public our support to the vaccination program,” Gatchalian said.

The senator said he sent word to vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. over the weekend of his willingness to participate in the national vaccination program.

This is also to disprove the notion that some politicians want to be vaccinated with the brand of their choice and with an efficacy rate higher than CoronaVac, he added.

“What’s more important to me is the seal of approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If it’s approved by the FDA, which went through tedious analysis prior to the grant of authorization for emergency use, I’m okay with it,” he said.

“I’m okay with any brand of anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’m not brand conscious. I put my trust in the FDA,” he added.

The FDA earlier said that Sinovac’s CoronaVac is not recommended for healthcare workers frequently exposed to COVID-19 patients due to its low efficacy rate of 50.4%, based on trials conducted in Brazil.

The FDA, however, clarified that health workers can still choose to receive the vaccine as it only made a recommendation on which groups it is not suited for.

The Philippine government on Monday rolled out its immunization program after COVID-19 vaccines donated by China arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The Department of Health said that more than 700 frontline workers, and government officials received the vaccine on the first day of immunization.

Prior to Monday’s immunization drive, a survey conducted from January 26 to February 1, 2021 by the OCTA Research Group showed that only 19% of Filipinos are willing to have themselves vaccinated while 46% would not want to be inoculated and 35% are still undecided.

Gatchalian, however, expressed optimism that the figures will change in the coming days.

“Maraming hesitant dahil bago itong vaccine. Kaya importante dito ang confidence building na dapat pangunahan ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, well-known personalities, at kahit mga elected officials kagaya ng ginawa ni Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he said.

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