Western Visayas governors to buy COVID-19 vaccines from Novavax
ILOILO CITY –– Provincial governments in Western Visayas are eyeing to procure the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine Covovax, which is expected to be available for delivery in the third quarter of this year.
In an online meeting on Sunday, the governors in the region met with National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. to discuss the possible procurement of Covovax.
Covovax is produced by the Serum Institute of India in partnership with the US-based biotechnology company Novovax and will be distributed with local partner Faberco Life Sciences Inc.
Representatives of the manufacturers and suppliers briefed the Western Visayas officials on the vaccine and expected delivery timeline.
The national government earlier signed a deal for the purchase of 30 million doses of Covovax.
Galvez said, in the online meeting, that the volume is scalable to 40 million doses.
In the United Kingdom, the vaccine has completed Phase 3 of clinical trials involving thousands of volunteers to test for efficacy and safety.
It is under Phase 3 in the United States, Mexico, and India.
Manufacturers expect approval for human use by the second quarter of the year and the start of deliveries of supplies in the third quarter.
At least 1.2 billion doses are being targeted to be produced worldwide.
Sunday’s meeting was attended by Governors Florencio Miraflores (Aklan) Rhodora Cadiao (Antique), Esteban Evan Contreras (Capiz), Samuel Gumarin Jr. (Guimaras), Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo) and Eugenio Jose Lacson (Negros Occidental), and Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.
Treñas said the governors were expected to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the manufacturers and suppliers so they could start negotiations for the procurement of vaccines for their provinces.
The national government is targeting the inoculation of at least 70 percent of the population to achieve “herd immunity.”
The World Health Organization defines “herd immunity” as a concept premised on the vaccination of the vast majority of the population of an area that would lower the risk of spreading the infection and help protect the more vulnerable populations.
Western Visayas has a population of around six million, which would require the inoculation of around 4.2 million to achieve herd immunity.
Iloilo province and the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo have also entered into agreements with the manufacturers of AstraZeneca vaccine for their respective constituents.
In Cebu City, Mayor Edgardo Labella has created a vaccine board that would study and decide which manufacturers the residents would prefer.
Labella said he was aware that many residents were not comfortable with the China-made Sinovac vaccine, the choice of the national government, since it was reported to be less effective against COVID-19.
“One factor that will be considered is a vaccine’s efficacy rate,” he said.
The city government has earmarked a P400-million budget for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. Another P100-million supplemental budget is expected to be passed to augment it.
Labella said the city targets to immunize at least 70 percent of the city’s population of 922,611 people for free. With reports from Carla Gomez and Ador Vincent Mayol, Inquirer Visayas
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