PH close to securing up to 20M vaccine doses from Moderna

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — After months of negotiations, the Philippines can soon procure up to 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from American pharmaceutical company Moderna, the country's vaccine czar confirmed Monday.

During the hearing of the House Committee on Health, Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., upon the guidance of Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, announced they will soon secure the vaccines that are to be equally divided between the government and the private sector.

"For Moderna, sinasabi ni Ambassador 'Babe' Romualdez, I can already announce na 20 million doses ang makukuha natin (Ambassador 'Babe' Romualdez said I can already announce that we will secure 20 million doses)," he said. "[That is] 10 million for the private sector and 10 million for the government."

Romualdez already made the announcement in a statement last week.

"The Philippine government is in the final stages of negotiating for the supply of a minimum of 10 million doses of mRNA-1273, the company's COVID-19 vaccine, with the option to purchase an additional 10 million doses," the statement read.

Once the deal is closed, the vaccines will be delivered by mid-year, Romualdez said.

Moderna is one of the vaccine brands now being used in the US, along with Pfizer. The Moderna vaccine has been found 94.1% effective in preventing coronavirus infection, while Pfizer's has an efficacy rate of 95%.

READ: Moderna thinks its vaccine will protect against the coronavirus for at least a year

Moderna's vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage and can be kept at about minus 20 degrees Celsius, unlike Pfizer's vaccine which has to be stored at minus 75 degrees Celsius.

Romualdez said the private sector, led by Enrique Razon, chairman and president of International Container Terminal Services, has pledged free shipping of the Moderna vaccines from the manufacturing facility in Spain.

Galvez said the national government has so far secured 30 million doses of Covovax from the Serum Institute of India and 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccines. That's on top of advance purchases of mostly AstraZeneca vaccines by local government units and private firms through tripartite agreements.

At a forum with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and the Department of Health on Tuesday, Galvez said the vaccines would cost from $20 to $25.

The government expects 50,000 doses from Sinovac to be the first to arrive in the country in February, but Pfizer's vaccine could be rolled out earlier if the global COVAX facility would grant the Philippines' appeal, Galvez noted.