‘Impasse’ on delivery of Pfizer vaccines cleared, as PH receives contract side letter — WHO
MANILA, Philippines — The seeming impasse on the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer may be resolved soon after the American drugmaker sent to the Philippine government a side letter for the arrival of the vaccine shots, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative to the country said Tuesday.
“There are some, several minor clauses in the side letter which is now with the Philippine government, came early this morning from Pfizer,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in an online media forum.
“So we believe that within the day, today or tomorrow, or whenever the legal teams have cleared those documents, we will see a resolution of that impasse and maybe there will be room to hear about when potential vaccine deliveries can happen,” he added.
A side letter is a document that is ancillary or supplementary to a contract.
According to Abeyasinghe, the necessary commitments from the Philippine government to the global vaccine sharing scheme Covax were fulfilled in time. However, he noted that there were some delays in finalizing some requirements between Pfizer-BioNTech and the government.
“I have seen some communication last night which now indicates that measures are being taken to address those issues and we believe that the limited quantity of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will be shipped as early as possible once the exchange of letters is completed and the requirements are met by the Philippine government and the manufacturer, Pfizer-BioNTech,” he added.
The country was supposed to receive the initial 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in mid-february but this was delayed due to paperworks, particularly on indemnification agreement in case of post-vaccination side effects.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that Pfizer has sought an indemnity agreement with the Philippines for its Covid-19 vaccine doses, citing the Dengvaxia controversy.
But according to Abeyasinghe, agreements for indemnification for those who will suffer from severe side effects are being requested by vaccine manufacturers from any country. He said requests on indemnity clauses are not related to any issue.
“The indemnification clause is something that the manufacturers are demanding from any country, irrespective of whether they are buying through direct purchase from manufacturers or whether they are receiving vaccines through the Covax facility or some other donor mechanisms,” he said.
“Irrespective of that, all manufacturers are requesting that recipient countries sign an indemnification agreement,” the WHO official added.
The Philippines has already signed and submitted to Covax an indemnity agreement for Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccines that are expected to arrive in the country, according to Galvez.
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