After Covovax, Moderna next?

The Philippines has been assured of at least 30 million doses of the Indian version of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine with possibly no cash advance required, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Monday, adding that negotiations with US-based Moderna may begin before the year ends.

On Sunday, the local procurement partner of the Serum Institute of India, which makes the vaccine, said if negotiations are successful, delivery could be made by the third quarter next year.

Covovax is the Indian version of the original vaccine formulated at the Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the US-based Novovax.

At the same time, Locsin said, the country’s vaccine czar Carlito Galvez is going to start talks with the American biotechnology company Moderna may start on Dec. 30.

Moderna became the second company after Pfizer to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine.

This would pave the way for Moderna to apply for an EUA in the Philippines.

The Philippines and private companies earlier signed a supply agreement with British drugmaker AstraZeneca involving at least 2 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.

The government is also looking into the vaccines of China’s Sinovac Biotech, Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, and Pfizer.

On another front, the Philippines is guaranteed access to COVID-19 vaccines good for about 22 million people from the COVAX facility, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday.

The COVAX initiative is a global collaboration that seeks to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

"Sa [through] COVAX, we are guaranteed [enough vaccines] for 20 percent of our population, but we won’t get it all at the same time," Vergeire said.

She said health care workers would get the first doses, while the rest would get shots in the second or third quarter.

Also on Monday, vaccine retailer Family Vaccine & Specialty Clinics through IP Biotech and Ambica International Corp. signed an exclusive agreement with Bharat Biotech International Ltd. to import and distribute Covaxin, India’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, upon completion of ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials and FDA approval.

Senator Christopher Go, meanwhile, said the government is exploring multiple sources of vaccines to ensure access to safe and effective vaccines to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go also said the private sector has also been raising funds so they may assist the country in acquiring sufficient numbers of vaccines for Filipinos.

Topics: Novavax , COVID-19 , vaccine , Teodoro Locsin Jr. , US Food and Drug Administration
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