Gaea Katreena Cabico ( – January 14, 2021 – 2:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government and private firms signed another deal with AstraZeneca Thursday for 17 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine as officials scramble to lock in supplies to inoculate at least 50 million Filipinos this year.

Around 300 companies and 39 local government units pitched in for the procurement of additional COVID-19 jabs from the British-Swedish drugmaker, which are expected to arrive in the country this year, Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said.

This is the second deal that the government and private firms signed with AstraZeneca. In November last year, the government inked an agreement with the pharmaceutical firm for 2.6 million doses, which was made possible through the donations of some private companies.

“We have no doubt this partnership will enable us to save more than 8 million lives from the menace of the virus,” said Carlito Galvez Jr., the former military general in charge of the government’s vaccine procurement effort.

The vaccine developed by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm in conjunction with Oxford University is found to be 70% effective on average, well below the 95% reported for the COVID-19 jabs from US firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

But AstraZeneca shots only need to be stored at around 2°C, which is the standard temperature that is within the existing cold chain system in the country. The government is eyeing to distribute AstraZeneca vaccines in far-flung areas along with those that do not require sub-arctic temperatures for storage.

Local regulators are still reviewing the application of AstraZeneca for the emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, which is needed before rollout.

Aside from AstraZeneca, the government also secured 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by US-based Novavax and Serum Institute of India, and 25 million shots from China’s Sinovac.

The Philippines aims to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos against COVID-19 in 2021 alone, but it depends on the global supply, which had been mostly procured by wealthy nations. 

With nearly 493,000 COVID-19 cases, the Philippines has the second worst COVID-19 outbreak in Southeast Asia. 

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: January 6, 2021 – 3:37pm

Follow this page for updates on the issues surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination program in the Philippines. Main photo from AFP/Yaksin Akgul.

January 6, 2021 – 3:37pm

British-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZeneca has applied for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines.

Philippine Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo confirms this in an interview with CNN Philippines.

AstraZeneca, along with its partner Oxford University in England, has so far made 50 million doses of its vaccine. In November, the British laboratory announced that its vaccine was on average 70% effective.

January 5, 2021 – 8:32am

The Armed Forces of the Philippines terminates its investigation into the unregulated Sinopharm vaccination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security detail following the chief executive’s order not to cooperate with the probe.

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