PH set to sign vaccine deal with AstraZeneca | Inquirer News
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PH set to sign vaccine deal with AstraZeneca

CHEAPEST SO FAR The COVID-19 vaccine of AstraZeneca will cost only $5 for two shots.—AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government may sign a deal with the British Swedish multinational and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca by the end of this month for the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine once the UK government issues a health regulatory authorization, the country’s vaccine czar said on Monday.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government and AstraZeneca could sign a deal on Dec. 28 or 29 for 20 million and 10 million doses for the local governments and the private sector, respectively.

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This is once Britain’s Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency grants authorization for the vaccine, Galvez said.

AstraZeneca pegged its price at only $5, or more or less P500 for two jabs of its COVID-19 vaccine.

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The vaccine, known as AZD1222, was co-developed with the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group. Administered by intramuscular injection, the vaccine uses as a vector a modified chimpanzee adenovirus.

No cash advance

Galvez said the government was also negotiating with Serum Institute of India for the supply of another type of COVID-19 vaccine and a meeting with the institute’s country representative was scheduled for Wednesday.

The Serum Institute, which promised to deliver 30 million doses, will comply with Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and will not ask for a cash advance, giving the government more flexibility, according to Galvez. Under a partnership with America’s Novavax Inc., the vaccines will be manufactured in India.

Novavax’s candidate vaccine, NVZ-CoV2373, is being developed with support of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and is currently undergoing Phase 3 trials.

“So all in all, if the signing pushes through, we will have 60 million [doses] for the second and third quarter,” Galvez said.

The House Makabayan bloc is seeking an investigation of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program after an “apparent conflict” within the Duterte administration on the procurement of the vaccine.

“Even before the first government officially procured doses of vaccine arrived, controversies had already hounded the procurement process, with alleged issues of supposed conflict of interest, corruption and profiteering surfacing,” the Makabayan bloc said in filing the House resolution.

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In their resolution, the Makabayan bloc wanted the Defeat COVID-19 Ad-Hoc Committee to launch a formal inquiry into the government’s mass vaccination program for COVID-19.

The group said that “due to the lack of prompt action of the government to track, test and isolate the first few cases, the virus spread like wildfire and increased a hundredfold in just a few weeks.” INQ

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