Task force tags makers for delays in vax orders
MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 said the slow vaccine production worldwide and the terms set by drug manufacturers were largely causing the delay in the delivery of some 10 million doses ordered by local governments.
The task force issued the statement in response to Sen. Miguel Zubiri’s claim on Tuesday that it was sitting on a pile of unsigned applications to import vaccines from 42 local governments and about 300 private companies.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., NTF chief implementer, on Wednesday said that it was not an issue of funding and that the national government has more than enough money, but rather the limited supply of vaccines in the world market.
“We have to face the reality that vaccine makers are still not able to produce at a level that would meet the requirements of all nations,” Galvez said as he appealed to local governments to repurpose local funds initially allocated for vaccines to strengthening COVID-19 testing and tracing.
Zubiri earlier claimed that multiparty agreements (MPAs) between the local and national governments and the drug companies were pending at the NTF.
Galvez said some MPAs were put on hold due to conditions set by the manufacturers.
Sinovac, Pfizer and Sputnik V, for instance, were prioritizing the national government orders, while Moderna and AstraZeneca have temporarily stopped taking orders from different countries due to supply constraints, he explained.
Galvez added that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Biotech Inc. was currently “not open” to multiparty purchases, although the national government was working out the purchase of 6 million doses of the single-shot vaccine.
Other brands like Novavax have yet to secure an emergency use authorization, while Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has not yet been approved by the health experts for local use.
Of the 42.5 million doses delivered to the country since March, 23 million were procured by the national government and 15.9 million were donated.
As of Aug. 15, the Philippines has fully vaccinated 12.5 million Filipinos, still far from inoculating the target adult population of about 70 million, but officials vowed to work double time.
Food and Drug Administration Director Eric Domingo said in on Wednesday that experts were discussing options for Sputnik V recipients, who have yet to get their second jab due to shipment delays from Russia.
Domingo said they were still deciding on whether to give a different brand for the second dose or let the individual repeat the two-dose series using another brand altogether.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.