Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Filipinos in various parts of the country will be receiving different COVID-19 vaccines for efficient deliveries, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said Friday.
The Philippines is engaging 17 foreign developers to sign supply agreements and pre-order vaccine doses ahead of mass productions, which will likely be ready only by mid-2021.
Galvez told CNN Philippines’ The Source that the advance supply deals are covered by confidentiality clauses, but he confirmed that Moderna and Pfizer are part of the talks, especially after both reported a more than 95% efficacy rate that’s well above the standard.
However, not everyone in the country may receive these vaccines from these two leading manufacturers, as a big factor would be the cold chain transport and storage.
Some vaccines require special facilities capable of subzero temperature levels to preserve the potency of the shots.
Galvez said those with delicate requirements for use will be concentrated in urban areas with capacity, while areas with limited storage facilities will receive the more “classical” vaccine types.
“Example lang: kung makuha natin ang Moderna o Pfizer, dito lang sila sa Metro Manila at saka sa Region 4A para mas madali ang management. Kung makuha natin ang Sinovac, pwede po sila sa mga far-flung areas kasi pwede sila sa refrigerator lang,” Galvez said.
“‘Yung -20 degrees (Celsius), parang sa mga ice cream lang, kayang-kaya. ‘Yan po, pwede sa mga hubs sa Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro at saka mga other cities. Ganoon ang magiging strategy,” he added.
[Translation: For example, if we get vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, these will be used in Metro Manila and Region 4A for easier management. If we get Sinovac, we can send it to far-flung areas because it only needs to be refrigerated. Those at -20 degrees like ice cream, we can handle them. We can send these to hubs like Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and other cities. That’s our strategy.]
Galvez’s team is also getting in touch with the United States’ Johnson & Johnson and Novavax brands and the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca. He expressed confidence of quick approval from the Food and Drug Administration once foreign regulators with “stringent” rules clear the emergency use of these vaccines.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved advance market commitments with private foreign developers and early payments to secure supply of vaccines to the Philippines. Galvez’s team said they are looking to sign deals with American and British vaccine makers this month and three or four more in December, with the target of securing enough doses for 25 million Filipinos.
Once the deals are signed, Galvez said the suppliers may ask for a downpayment worth anywhere between 10-50% of the doses, payable within two months. Delivery of the vaccines is expected in 6-7 months, or by the middle of next year.
Payments will be coursed through the Asian Development Bank for transparency, Galvez said, but noted that he cannot disclose yet the unit price of the vaccines.
“Naka-allot po kami ng more or less, nasa range ng ₱30 billion to ₱50 billion – ‘yung vaccine pa lang po ‘yun. We will allocate maybe twice of that ‘yung logistics and mobilization kasi mas mahal ‘yung tinatawag nating supply chain,” the vaccine czar said.
[Translation: We’ve allocated more or less between ₱30 billion to ₱50 billion for the vaccines alone. We will allocate maybe twice of that for logistics and mobilization because the supply chain requirements are more expensive.]
The entire immunization plan will last three to five years to cover the country’s more than 100 million population, he added. To be prioritized are health workers, essential workers, the poor, senior citizens and the vulnerable (including pregnant women and people with comorbities). Next in line are seafarers and overseas workers, as well as military and police, Galvez added.
Talks are ongoing with vaccine makers from China, UK, US, Australia, and Russia. Another option is India.