Gov’t in ‘advanced talks’ with six potential local vaccine makers
MANILA, Philippines — The government is in “advanced talks” with six potential local vaccine manufacturers to sustain the country’s supply needs for jabs, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) disclosed Thursday.
DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said in an online media forum that the government is talking with pharmaceutical companies that have expressed intents to set up vaccine-making facilities in the country.
“These are local pharmaceutical companies. Wala pa tayong (We don’t have) local vaccine manufacturers in the Philippines. These local pharmaceutical companies are trying to come up with a new product, which is a vaccine,” she said.
Guevara refused to identify the companies, citing confidentiality as negotiations are still ongoing. However, she provided descriptions of the pharmaceutical firms.
According to Guevara, the first company is a local distributor of a South Korean firm and is in discussions with two other companies to form a venture, as well as with the National Development Company (NDC).
The second company has “extensive” facilities in Asia, she said, adding that all the vaccines that the country needs, such as those against rubella, polio, human immunodeficiency virus, tuberculosis, COVID-19, and other non-COVID-19 diseases, are being manufactured by its prospective foreign partner.
As for the third firm, Guevara said it is considering starting its local vaccine manufacturing business with a fill-and-finish facility.
The fourth company, which has a connection with a vaccine developer in Germany, is already in discussion with NDC and the Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investments (DTI-BOI), she noted.
The fifth company is a long-term partner of a Chinese vaccine producer that is interested in local manufacturing, and that NDC and DTI-BOI are talking to this firm to fast-track their plans, she revealed.
Lastly, Guevara said the sixth company is still looking for a possible partner and has given NDC a pre-feasibility study for a vaccine. “But they intend to initially do form and fill for other vaccines and eventually do COVID-19 vaccines,” she added.
According to the DOST official, two of these companies, which she also refused to identify, have been “aggressive” in planning for the local production of vaccines.
“If they pursue what we think are their plans based on what they have told us, parang kakayanin nilang magproduce ng vaccine by late 2022 (they may be able to produce vaccines by late 2022),” she said.
She confirmed that the vaccines that may be produced by late 2022 are COVID-19 vaccines. The country, for now, heavily relies on imported anti-coronavirus shots.
But Guevarra noted that some of the companies are eyeing to first produce vaccines that are “well-established” and are already being used in the country’s national immunization program before producing COVID-19 shots.
Guevara said the country needs a local vaccine production to sustain the government’s needs for immunization programs, provide adequate vaccine doses for potential annual COVID-19 vaccination, and prepare for the next pandemic.
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