MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is negotiating with four pharmaceutical firms for the supply of COVID-19 booster shots, the official leading the government’s vaccine procurement efforts said on Thursday.
The World Health Organization has repeatedly stressed that booster shots are still not needed at the moment, but the government has already set aside P45 billion for the purchase of booster doses under the proposed 2022 national budget.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the government is in talks with four vaccine makers to possibly secure booster shots “that we will be needing either by the end of fourth quarter or early first quarter.”
He did not identify the manufacturers.
“Actually, right now, we are looking at the possibility that we are signing some term sheet, what we call non-binding term sheet, in order to lock in for boosters,” Galvez said.
The vaccine czar also said that China’s Sinovac Biotech expressed its willingness to donate 500,000 booster doses for healthcare workers.
Authorities are just waiting for the guidance of the Department of Health, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, and the vaccine expert panel on the need for additional shots for fully vaccinated individuals, Galvez said.
“We’re just looking for that cue. For as long as they say we need boosters, we can already make some sort of arrangement,” he said.
According to the WHO, current evidence does not indicate that booster shots are needed. It also pointed out that vulnerable people should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 first before extra doses are administered to those already fully inoculated.
At least 14 million people in the Philippines have completed vaccination against COVID-19 since March, while over 20 million have received first dose.