Not just Sinovac: Galvez says PH working out deals with more Western vaccine makers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 27) — The government says it expects to secure COVID-19 vaccine doses mostly from pharmaceutical developers in Western countries by 2021.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Saturday disputed criticisms that the country is only "focusing on new vaccines," primarily China's Sinovac Biotech whose product is said to be only deemed "acceptable" to the minimum global health standards despite questions on transparency.

RELATED: DOST: Despite 50% effectivity, PH still can't use Sinovac sans full data

During the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases with President Rodrigo Duterte and health experts on Saturday, Galvez stressed that the country is also securing deals with America's Johnson & Johnson; British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, Russia's Gamaleya Institute, and India's Novavax.

US-based drug manufacturer Pfizer has also applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its coronavirus vaccine in the country.

"So all in all, sir, if we will get Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, J&J, and also Moderna, we might have more or less 80 million doses." Galvez reported to Duterte.

According to Galvez, AstraZeneca, which previously offered 6.2 million doses, will likely be the first to secure the deal. This will be followed by Novavax, Pfizer, then Johnson & Johnson.

"We have also the discussion of the head of terms and also the supply of agreement and also with Moderna; and then followed by Gamaleya and also the Sinovac," he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte bared during the meeting that some Filipinos, including military men, were already inoculated with another China-based vaccine, Sinopharm, even without any approval for its use in the country.

"Marami na ang nagpa-injection dito sa Sinopharm (A lot of people here were already injected with Sinopharm here)," Duterte said.

Galvez reiterated that the country is conducting a "stringent" screening of vaccines, as prescribed by international institutions like World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank, which offer loans for their procurement.

"Gusto po naming i-announce sa ating mga kababayan na iyong pinipili po natin na vaccine is very safe and very effective considering that they will follow our stringent procedures...and of our fund manager, iyong tinatawag nating procurement agents, which are ADB, the World Bank and the AIIB."

[Translation: We would like to announce to the public that the vaccines that we choose are very safe and very effective considering that they will follow our stringent procedures...and of our fund manager,s the ones we call procurement agents which are ADB, the World Bank and the AIIB.]

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque previously defended the government's eagerness to secure 25 million doses of Sinovac, noting that they are the only ones who could provide supply "at the soonest possible time."

A few days ago, the government drew flak for claiming that Sinovac's vaccine is "acceptable," and citing the World Health Organization's minimum threshold for effectivity. Brazilian researchers previously reported that Sinovac is just over 50% effective based on the country's recent trial data. However, full results of the trial have yet to be released.

Jaime Montoya, executive director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, clarified that the Philippines should not use any vaccine until it gets a final approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Montoya, of all the vaccine candidates, those that have already been authorized for emergency use in other countries will likely be secured by second quarter of 2021.

So far, only Pfizer with a 95% efficacy rate, and Moderna with 94.1% , have secured EUAs abroad.