"The Sinopharm vaccine is likely to be out in the market by the end of December."
Ample proof that Philippines-China ties remain robust despite the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea is that Beijing has already pledged to supply the country with vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are now at the final stages of field testing prior to large-scale manufacturing.
Ambassador Huang Xilian told the media recently that since the coronavirus outbreak, China has been actively engaging in vaccine research and development.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there are now 34 vaccines already in clinical evaluation around the globe. Of the eight candidate vaccines in Phase 3 trial—the final phase before commercial use—fur are from Chinese vaccine developers, including 2 from Sinopharm, a subsidiary of China’s leading vaccine producer China National Pharmaceutical Group (CNBG), 1 from Sinovac Biotech and 1 from CanSino Biological.
Sinopharm has in fact already tapped around 1,500 Filipinos to participate in the Phase 3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the United Arab Emirates since June. These Filipinos are among more than 30,000 volunteers in the world's first Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine.
Hundreds of thousands of people have received vaccinations of Sinopharm’s vaccine since China launched emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines on July 22, with no cases of severe adverse effects or infection.
Tests of SinoPharm’s vaccine against major COVID-19 virus strains are reported to have shown promising results in both safety and efficacy.
The Sinopharm vaccine is likely to be out in the market by the end of December. The company has built two high-level biosafety production facilities in Beijing and Wuhan, with an annual production capacity of 300 million doses. With the expansion of production capacity, the annual output will reach 800 million to 1 billion doses in the future, according to the Chinese ambassador.
While the Chinese vaccine is welcome, we should also consider vaccines being developed by other countries, such as Russia, United States and Great Britain. And as we wrote last week, even our neighbor Indonesia is well on the way to developing its own vaccine that we can also use to control the spread of the deadly disease.
Pasig River expressway project
Can we expect substantial relief from horrible traffic congestion in Metro Manila in, say, within the next five to 10 years?
Maybe, if the government and the private sector can get their act together.
At least there's light at the end of the tunnel.
We're talking about the project proposal of the conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) to build the P95.4 billion Pasig River Expressway (PAREX) that would basically follow the path of the waterway.
And what's good about it is that the project would also revive the heavily polluted Pasig River.
According to SMC president and CEO Ramon Ang, they will “not only be building a much-needed direct link between eastern and western Metro Manila, but we will also be leading a historic effort to bring the Pasig River back to health.”
“For so many decades, even when I was young, the Pasig River had been synonymous (with) pollution. Many Filipinos have long wanted to clean it and revive it, bring it back to its old glory. There were even high-profile fund-raising projects and similar initiatives to clean it. But unfortunately, not much has changed,” he explained.
The 27-kilometer Pasig River, which links Laguna de Bay to Manila Bay, runs through the cities of Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Taguig, and the municipality of Pateros in Metro Manila and Taytay in Rizal province.
PAREX will stretch a total of 19.4 kilometers and will start from Radial Road 10 (R10) in Manila, and will end at a connection to the South East Metro Manila Expressway at Circumferential Road 6 (C6).
It will have entry and exit points at the University Belt area, San Juan, Buendia, Mandaluyong, Makati, Rockwell, Edsa, Pioneer St., Bonifacio Global City, C5, before terminating at C6.
The expressway is expected to provide an alternative and faster access to the business hubs Makati, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.
No timetable has been set for the project, but we hope the government and SMC can sit down and discuss the terms of reference to get it off the ground as soon as possible. This would certainly help boost mobility in the metropolis in the years ahead amid the expected growth in the urban population.
The Pasig River Expressway will be a game-changer if it is greenlighted by the government soon enough. Ramon Ang earlier said SMC already has a proposal to build a new highway on top of the existing EDSA. Whatever happened to that proposal?