The Philippine government’s focus this year in its fight against the COVID-19 virus is to vaccinate millions of Filipinos against the dreaded coronavirus, with its lead officials conducting discussions with several drug manufacturers to secure enough doses.
Authorities are in talks with around seven vaccine makers to secure 148 million doses, which is expected to protect up to 70 million people from the coronavirus.
Officially, no vaccine has been delivered yet to the country to date, but the World Health Organization said that the country is “on track” in preparing for the rollout.
There are two ways vaccines could reach Filipinos. One is through procurement, which is being handled exclusively by the national government, although tripartite agreements can be entered into by the private sector and local government officials.
The other is through phase 3 clinical trials, where thousands of people are injected with the vaccine to test for safety and efficacy.
As of January 2021, here is where Philippines stand on its immunization plan against COVID-19:
- A 2.6 million doses deal with UK’s AstraZeneca through a private sector donation was secured. These are expected to be delivered in June of this year, benefiting more than a million Filipinos. Half of the purchase will go to the government, while the other half will be used by the private sector, also for their frontliners.
- The Quezon City government purchased in advance 750,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines for its constituents.
- Bacolod City said it has signed a “confidential” agreement with AstraZeneca, refusing to divulge information, but it has earmarked ₱300 million for the purchase of the vaccines.
- Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. recently said the government is in the “advanced stages of negotiations” with Pfizer, Gamaleya, American pharmaceutical companies Novavax and Johnson and Johnson, and Chinese drugmaker Sinovac.
Aside from the government’s vaccination program, Filipinos may also volunteer for clinical trials soon, after the FDA approved the applications of Janssen Pharmaceuticals Company, a US-based vaccine maker owned by Johnson & Johnson, and Clover Biopharmaceutical of China.
These may start in the next few weeks after the vaccine experts panel identifies trial sites and participants are recruited.
Aside from these independent initiatives, the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial is expected to start this month.