Locsin secures US Secretary of State Pompeo’s help in ‘getting back’ Pfizer vaccines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 19) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr. said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has committed to help the Philippines secure COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer following an allegedly bungled deal.

This was among the topics discussed by the two officials during their "great phone conversation" Friday night, Locsin disclosed in a tweet on Saturday.

“I asked him to help Babe (Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez) and I get back even a fraction of the 10 million doses of Pfizer after someone dropped the ball. He’ll give it his best try,” Locsin said.

In an evening interview, Locsin added that Romualdez got in touch with Pfizer, and also Moderna manufacturers.

"He said they got in touch with me na Pfizer and Moderna, so something is being put together," said Locsin in an interview with the Usapang CQ show. "It may be less (than ten million doses), it will be a little later, but it's coming."

After the interview, Locsin shared a tweet on the Moderna vaccine and mentioned "Babe is on this already."

Locsin maintained that “someone dropped the ball” in initial talks brokered by him, Romualdez, and Pompeo which would have secured the arrival of 10 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson accused Health Secretary Francisco Duque III of failing to sign the confidential disclosure agreement on time, botching the deal. ​However, the Health chief told CNN Philippines' Balitaan that there were no 10 million doses to speak of, claiming that the papers that reached his office only consisted of "generalities" representing the early steps of supply negotiations.

READ: Duque denies corruption as senators warn of criminal raps over Pfizer deal

In a media briefing on Saturday, Galvez backed Duque, saying what really delayed the Pfizer negotiations, which began in August, were the “uncertainties” and high logistical requirements.

Talks are at an “advanced” stage now, and a deal will likely be signed this month or by January 2021, Galvez said. By that time, the vaccines should have already arrived in the country had the supposed initial deal remained on schedule.

Galvez said the government is still waiting for information on how many doses Pfizer can supply. But Romualdez said this will probably involve 5 million doses — only half of the initial plan.

He added that the arrival of the vaccine will most likely be delayed to June because other nations, including Singapore, were able to finalize deals earlier than the Philippines.

Aside from the US, Galvez said other countries like China, Russia, and India have expressed willingness to grant the Philippines access to vaccines once available. The country has so far secured 2.6 million doses from United Kingdom-based drug firm AstraZeneca through a private sector donation.