Pfizer assures affordable vaccines for PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — US drugmaker Pfizer is aiming to provide developing countries like the Philippines doses of its COVID-19 vaccine at an affordable price.

"I'm also very happy to announce that it is Pfizer's intention to make available its COVID-19 vaccine to low-income countries like the Philippines at a not-for-profit price during the pandemic," said Andreas Quercia, Pfizer country manager during the Senate Committee on the Whole's hearing on the national COVID-19 vaccination plan Friday.

Pfizer also said it is in "advance discussions" with the Philippine government on a supply agreement for its COVID-19 vaccine, adding it plans to make doses available to the country as soon as possible. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., meanwhile, said there might already be a term sheet and supply agreement with the pharmaceutical firm within next week.

The official also said Pfizer vaccine doses may reach the Philippines as early as the first quarter of 2021 through the help of the COVAX facility, of which the country is part of. The facility purchases vaccines to be distributed for free to developing countries, covering a maximum of 20% of their respective populations.

Pfizer is the first to secure Emergency Use Authorization in the Philippines for a coronavirus vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration granted the approval Thursday, citing the vaccine's high efficacy rate.

Pfizer earlier bagged EUAs across the globe, including from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Agreements with Sinovac, other firms not a 'done deal'

When asked whether agreements the country has entered into in advance for vaccine supply with firms like China-based Sinovac are already a "done deal," Galvez said that is not the case.

"Ang sa atin pa lang po ngayon [For now,] we are [just] dealing with the term sheet. Posible rin [It could also be possible] we have to lock (the supply), so that they can already make production. So sa ngayon po, wala pa pong government funds tayong naibibigay," clarified the official.

[Translation: As of now, we haven't given out government funds yet.]

National policy against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon also reiterated the country's vaccine expert panel has recommended seven vaccine brands for possible purchase, which includes Sinovac. However, none of this is final yet, as the government awaits the panel's final recommendation, along with an EUA from the FDA.

Sinovac has also applied for emergency use authorization, the regulatory agency revealed earlier this week.