Philippines to Secure 30M of Covovax From India

by Ellon Labana


By Henrylito D. Tacio

Photo courtesy of SSI

The Philippine government has recently signed an agreement with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer to secure the supply of 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covovax, said a press release sent to various media organizations.

Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. signed a Term Sheet on January 9 with the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Faberco Life Sciences, Inc.  The vaccine will be available starting the third quarter of this year.

“This is a significant milestone in relations between India and the Philippines. It shows that we don’t have to look far beyond Philippine shores to find friends who are willing to help each other out,” Kishore Hemlani, Founder of Faberco Life Sciences Inc., SII’s Philippine partner, was quoted as saying after the signing with Sec. Galvez.

SII partnered with Novavax, a US-based biotechnology company for the development and commercialization of the Covovax vaccine.

“The vaccine has the recombinant coronavirus spike protein nanoparticle and a Novavax-patented Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies,” the press release stated.

Currently, Covovax is in third-stage trials and expected to be approved for use by international regulators.

“The vaccine will be used to vaccinate 15 million vulnerable and poor Filipinos. The vaccine is stable at 2°C to 8°C, the standard temperature that is within the existing cold chain system in the Philippines, thus allowing its distribution to the remotest barangays,” said Dr. Luningning Villa, the Faberco Life Sciences Medical Director.

The press release said the candidate vaccine is thoroughly evaluated in different geographies, various age groups, groups that are most affected by COVID-19, including people living with HIV, and racial and ethnic minorities.

The clinical trials involve a sizable population of around 50,000 subjects to ensure extreme robust clinical data prior to approval by relevant regulatory bodies including the World Health Organization (WHO), the press release said.

The vaccine underwent the initial phase of the clinical trials in Australia, South Africa and India. Phase-three trial is currently carried out in the UK with 15,000 subjects and also ongoing in the United States and Mexico with 30,000 subjects.

The price of the vaccine is expected to be finalized soon between the government and SII, which is noted for providing effective, safe and affordable vaccines across the globe through the decades.

SII is a dependable supplier of various vaccines to the Philippines, especially those used in the government’s Expanded Program for Immunization.

Faberco Life Sciences, Inc., is also SII’s partner for key programs in the country such as the Inactivated Polio vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine, Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine, aside from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Geneva-based United Nations health agency said last January 7 that 42 countries are rolling out safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.  “Thirty-six of these are high-income countries and six are middle-income,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, in a media briefing. 

The WHO chief observed that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet.  “At the outset, rich countries have bought up the majority of supply of multiple vaccines,” he pointed out.

“Vaccine nationalism hurts us all and is self-defeating,” Dr. Tedros stressed.  “But on the flipside, vaccinating equitably saves lives, stabilizes health systems and would lead to a truly global economic recovery that stimulates job creation.” 

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