Philippines in advanced talks with AstraZeneca for vaccine

Small bottles labeled with "Vaccine"stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19"words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Nov 24, 2020, Reuters. The Philippines is close to concluding talks with Britain’s AstraZeneca for the supply of at least 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, a top coronavirus task force official said on Monday, Business World reported.

Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., the former general in charge of strategy to fight the coronavirus, said the government was also in talks with Pfizer Inc. and China’s Sinovac for vaccine supply deals.

Mr. Galvez said the government could enter into an advance market agreement with AstraZeneca before the month ends.

If negotiations with three drugmakers were successful, Mr. Galvez said in a televised briefing with President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the Philippines could lock in 60 million vaccine doses.

AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine could be as much as 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a new weapon, cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.

Mr. Galvez said the British government has offered to send military personnel to the country to help with roll out of vaccines, which may arrive in the country in the second quarter of next year.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in the same briefing the government was seeking 73.2 billion pesos ($1.52 billion) from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, state-run banks, and bilateral sources to fund the purchase of the vaccines.

With its more than 108 million people and some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections in Asia, the Philippines is considered as both a suitable location for clinical trials and a large market for global vaccine manufacturers.

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