MANILA: The Philippines on Friday signed a supply agreement for 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to inoculate some 1.5 million Filipinos.
The purchase deal for the experimental vaccine developed by the British pharmaceutical giant with the University of Oxford will support the Philippine government’s plans to immunize against COVID-19 some two-thirds of the country’s population of 110 million.
A tripartite agreement was signed by Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the government’s National Task Force Against COVID-19; Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, representing the private sector; and Lotis Ramin, president of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc.
The vaccine supply will be fully paid for by private firms, but half of it will be donated to the government to help in the COVID-19 response. It is expected to arrive by the second quarter of 2021.
“We were all called upon to help find solutions to this unprecedented public health crisis. This is because we know that our lives and the lives of our loved ones are at stake. If the country is to survive, we must rely [upon] and take care of each other,” Galvez said during a virtual deal-signing ceremony.
“The agreement we are forging today is one of a kind and perhaps one of the first being done across the globe — a partnership wherein the private sector will purchase the vaccines and donate it to the government,” he said.
He added that the guaranteed 2.6 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca will be a game changer in the Philippines’ “quest to recover and heal together” and will give Filipinos confidence that there is now a “chance to beat the virus and win back the lives that we lost.”
The government, Galvez said, is in talks with AstraZeneca for a possible purchase of another 1 million doses of vaccine and is negotiating deals with other vaccine producers for its three to five-year strategy to annually immunize between 25 and 30 million people.
When asked why the AstraZeneca vaccine was chosen, Concepcion said that being a non-profit endeavor it is a very affordable vaccine, and its producer has a good reputation.
Under the tripartite agreement signed on Friday, he added, the private sector will donate the vaccine to the government especially for the “frontliners in the field, the medical people, the police, the military and the rest that are in the most vulnerable sector…and the poorest of the poor.”