Vaccine czar assures gov’t won’t buy vaccines not endorsed by experts panel

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 15, 2021   •   286

MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. assured that the national government will not procure vaccines not endorsed by vaccine experts panel.

“Only those vaccines endorsed by the vaccine experts panel will be purchased, and number 2, only those issued an EUA [Emergency Use Authorization] by FDA [Food and Drug Administration] will be administered,” he said.

The Philippines is in talks with seven vaccine manufacturers: Serum Institute of India, Astrazeneca Research-Based Biopharmaceutical, Pfizer Inc., Janssen, Moderna Inc., Sinovac Biotech, and Gamaleya Research Institute.

Two of the manufacturers, Novavax and Astrazeneca, already have signed term sheets or supply agreements with the Philippines. Pfizer is also in the final stages of the negotiations for the vaccine supply agreement.

Pfizer Philippines country manager Andreas Michael Riedel Quercia assured that COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the country once the agreement is signed by next week.

“Pfizer is very keen to partner with the Philippines to ensure that the Pfizer/Biontech Covid-19 vaccine is available for use in the country,” he said.

An estimate of 44 million doses of free COVID-19 vaccines will be available in the country through COVAX facility.

COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon also clarified the country may still cancel negotiations with any vaccine manufacturer upon recommendation of the panel.

“If the vaccine experts panel does not recommend a certain vaccine, then the Philippine government will not purchase and will not administer the vaccine. The choice of vaccine is heavily reliant on what the vaccine experts panel recommends,” he said

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already approved the EUA of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines. The supply of vaccines is set to arrive through the COVAX facility in February, aside from the 50,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines.

Meanwhile, the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines reported that the government still has not discussed the plan for the COVID-19 vaccine storage. The cold chain storage is for several vaccines that need to be stored in cold temperature.

Cold Chain Association of the Philippines President Anthony Dizon said they still have not received any clear directive from the government regarding the process of storing COVID-19 vaccines.

“Hindi pa po nakikipag-usap sa amin ang gobyerno. Kaya po hindi rin naming masimulan ang action plan na maaaring kailangang ipatupad dahil hanggang ngayon, wala kaming naririnig na malinaw na direksyon (The government still hasn’t given us any directives so we cannot begin any action plan because until now, we have not received any clear directions),” he said.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), several cold chain storage providers have directly coordinated with the government. They are also prepared to coordinate with the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines for their recommendation on the vaccine storage process. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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