2 American companies willing to supply PH with COVID vax, says Romualdez

Image for illustrative purpose only. Photo: Bill Oxford/Unsplash
Image for illustrative purpose only. Photo: Bill Oxford/Unsplash

Two United States-based pharmaceutical companies are “ready to supply” the Philippines with COVID-19 vaccines, the Philippines’ ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said today.

Romualdez said in a statement that Moderna and Arcturus Therapeutics could sell between 4 million to 25 million doses of their vaccines in the third quarter of 2021.

Read: Malacañang should question safety and efficacy of China vax, says Leachon

“We are hoping our government can consider the promising candidates of Moderna and Arcturus for inclusion in our countries pool of anti-COVID vaccines,” Romualdez said.

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said that he, along with Romualdez and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was working on the procurement of 10 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and that it was supposed to arrive in the country in January. However, an unidentified government official “dropped the ball” which led to the delay of the drug’s shipment.  That person was Health Secretary Francisco Duque, alleged Senator Panfilo Lacson, who said that the health minister failed to sign off on the necessary paperwork.

However, Duque said that Pfizer never promised that it would supply the Philippines with 10 million doses of its drug, and added that the pharma company was having production issues.

President Rodrigo Duterte thought that his health minister, whom he has publicly defended multiple times, did not commit any major lapses in connection with the Pfizer deal, Spokesman Harry Roque said.

The U.S. government is expected to issue an emergency use authorization for Moderna, making it the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in the States. Arcturus’ vaccine, which is being developed along with Singaporean scientists, is expected to become available in early 2021.

Despite the absence of Pfizer’s vaccines, the Philippines still has other options. The Duterte government is currently in the final stage of acquiring 25 million doses of the controversial vaccine Sinovac, which is expected to arrive in March. Meanwhile, Filipino private companies have purchased 2.6 million shots of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, expected to be delivered in May or June.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 454,447 recorded as of yesterday. The figure includes 419,902 recoveries and 8,850 deaths.

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