PH buying AstraZeneca shots; private sector picking up tab
The Philippine government will sign on Friday an agreement with the private sector and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the purchase of 2 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.
National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief Carlito Galvez Jr. announced the deal on Thursday and said the private sector would shoulder the cost of the vaccines.
“This coming Friday, we will sign the tripartite agreement where we will buy 2 million doses of the vaccine from the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca. Joining us will be the private sector who donated these,” Galvez said in a press briefing.
UK not seeking profit
Galvez said the United Kingdom and AstraZeneca wanted to make the vaccine accessible to all and were not seeking to profit from it.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate up to 75 percent of the population against COVID-19, but this would not be completed in one year, Galvez said.
The government, he said, could vaccinate only 25 million to 30 million people a year.
One of the reasons for the slow pace was vaccine supply and demand in the world market, he said.
The vaccine is expected to become available either in May, June or July next year, so the immunization drive is likely to start late in the second quarter of 2021, he said.
He also cited the logistics involved in the endeavor.
The country’s previous immunization drives targeted only about 5 million people a year, he noted.
The government would have to take into consideration cold chain storage and management of the vaccines, he said.
If it would use a vaccine needing cold chain storage, there are limitations to this, he added.
He also said officials were assessing and conducting an inventory of the supply chain facilities of the Department of Health (DOH) and the private sector for the vaccines.
He said that once the contract for the vaccine had been signed, the government would plan the delivery schedule, storage and distribution with the vaccine manufacturer.
The government will also tap the services of the private sector to help it come up with a systematic plan using information technology and GPS technology, he said.
Galvez also assured the public that the COVID-19 immunization drive would be free of political color, even if it would take place in the run-up to the 2022 elections.
The President’s goal is to contain the virus and end the outbreak in the country, as he has seen the suffering of the Filipino people, Galvez said.
He said the President wanted to ensure this by appointing him to the task of overseeing the matter, as he was not involved in politics.
Galvez was a military general before he joined the administration as peace process adviser after his retirement.
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