(UPDATED) The business community and local government units (LGUs) on Thursday, January 14, 2021, signed agreements to procure additional doses of the AstraZeneca candidate vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The transaction brought the total volume of vaccines purchased by the private sector and LGUs from AstraZeneca to 17 million (not 20 million) doses, including the first vaccine deal of 2.6 million doses in November 2020.
The National Task Force Against Covid-19 said the second advance market commitment with AstraZeneca involved 14.4 million doses.
As of Thursday, the total volume of Covid-19 vaccines procured by the private sector, national government and LGUs have exceeded 70 million doses.
The government earlier secured 30 million doses of Novavax vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 25 million doses of the CoronaVac from Sinovac Biotech of China.
An unspecified volume of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine may also be delivered in February through the Covax initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Lotis Ramin, AstraZeneca Philippines country director, said the company maintains its “commitment to ensure broad and equitable access to the vaccine at no profit” for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officials earlier said the AstraZeneca vaccine costs $5.5, including logistics expenses. It is the cheapest among the candidate vaccines in the market.
“Today, we are delighted to conclude 17 million doses, which can reach millions of Filipinos through the close collaboration between AstraZeneca, the Philippine government, local government units and private sector donors,” Ramin said during the signing ceremony dubbed “A Dose of Hope” Thursday.
“We are working closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine lives up to the highest safety standards,” she added.
AstraZeneca has applied for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that will allow the use of its vaccine in the Philippines for the duration of the public health emergency.
As of Thursday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Enrique Domingo said the Vaccine Expert Panel was awaiting the pharmaceutical company’s response to questions seeking to clarify some clinical trial data.
AstraZeneca already has an EUA in the UK, Argentina and India. The company has also reached a deal with SII of India for the manufacture of its vaccine.
Among the LGUs represented during the signing ceremony on Thursday are the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, Valenzuela and Las Piñas in the National Capital Region.
AstraZeneca is expected to make its first shipments to the Philippines in the third quarter of 2021, said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
The Novavax vaccine is also expected to arrive in July.
For the first half of the year, government is expecting shipments of the Sinovac vaccines - 50,000 doses on February 20, 950,000 doses in March, and two to three million doses a month until December.
Each vaccine is administered in two doses, both of which must be of the same brand.
Sinovac filed an application for an EUA in the Philippines on January 13.
The FDA has issued an EUA only for Pfizer-BioNTech. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)
Note: This article has been updated to reflect the NTF statement that the second agreement with AstraZeneca involves only 14.4 million doses, not 17 million. The total supply commitment from AstraZeneca is now 17 million doses.