The Philippines will benefit from excess coronavirus vaccines that will be donated by the United States government to the COVAX facility.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said about “a hundred countries are asking the same thing from the US.”
“From what I am told by the White House, they are going through the COVAX facility. The United States, the biggest donor, they donated about 4 billion (doses) and so we expect them to give us almost the same amount that they gave us before, which is about 2 million doses and another 2 million from Pfizer,” Romualdez said in a television interview on Monday.
Romualdez said the US had already donated 80 million of the promised 4 billion doses to COVAX.
“The 80 million is the beginning of the continuing efforts by the United States in giving out to the world,” he said.
The US, he said, is close to achieving herd immunity which they target to happen by July 4, the American Independence Day.
“When that happens, we expect the US, I guess will be more generous in giving out or at least making it available to the world, the vaccines that they have developed,” he said.
The US-made vaccine donations, he noted, will pass through the World Health Organization and Gavi Alliance-led COVAX facility.
“That is the vehicle that they have chosen because it’s very hard for them to give it from one country to the other so through COVAX, which has been able to study which country needs the [number of vaccines], and so on,” he explained.
The Philippines “definitely is a recipient” of the donations, Romualdez said, with some expected to be delivered by the second week of June.
The Philippines, he added, is also working to get booster shots from pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer towards the end of the year and until early next year.
“These booster shots can be combined with any other vaccine brands,” he said.
The Philippines and the US are likewise in the “early stages” of negotiations for a co-manufacturing agreement with some Western vaccine brands.
“As far back as October last year, I have already been encouraging Moderna specifically,” said Romualdez. “We’ve been talking since July of last year to look at the Philippines as a place where they could at least start the distribution point, then after that to start developing vaccines here.”
He added the Philippines is also trying to get to work with the Novavax Inc. company.
“We were trying to put them together with (United Laboratories, Inc.) and also to be able to manufacture the vaccines,” he said. “I think this is going to be an exciting thing for the country because not only it will be good for our health but also our economy will be able to develop a good place where we can have these vaccines develop here.”
The Philippines will establish the first Virology Science and Technology Institute in New Clark City, Pampanga, part of the vaccine development and manufacturing roadmap.