The Philippine government on Friday sealed the deal with British vaccine firm AstraZeneca after signing the tripartite agreement securing 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for next year.
The signatory event was led by Presidential Advisor for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., and AstraZeneca Philippines President Lotis Ramin who was joined by other leaders of private companies.
Those of the 30 companies who contributed to the effort on funding the vaccines included San Miguel Corporation president Ramon Ang and Ayala Corporation chairman Jaime Zobel de Ayala.
“We hope that these vaccines will arrive by the month of May or June next year. At least we secured vaccines at 2.6 million which will help about 1.5 million-plus Filipinos,” Concepcion said.
Concepcion said that the vaccines will be split where half will go to private sectors for their employees and the other half will be given to the government.
He explained that AstraZeneca was chosen by the private sector due to their non-profit policy for next year in the assurance that the prices will be cheap.
Based on their discussion, the firm also confirmed a 70 to 90 percent efficacy rate despite other reports that are claiming errors in their initial data.
This, he said, was a risk that private firms are willing to take, especially that it is cheaper as compared to an RT-PCR test which they regularly give to their employees.
“It is worth the risk. Even if you make a mistake and this doesn’t work which is unlikely, you just lose $5. We believe that this is the only game in town for now,” he said.
Galvez also assured that the vaccine will not pass through the country’s ethics board if the results of their data are seen to be negative or questionable.
With this, he added that the government is still eyeing to acquire more doses from AstraZeneca which will further augment the country’s goal of immunizing around 60 to 70 million Filipinos by 2021 to 2022.
Experts on Friday said that errors reported on the vaccine developed by British firm AstraZeneca will not affect their application process for a trial as all data submitted will be thoroughly verified.
This was assured by Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Health Research and Development executive director Dr. Jaime Montoya who said that all details are checked by the vaccine board.
“We have no way of verifying it until they submit their official documents… but we do not foresee that it will change the efficacy as it’s just a basis of the numbers,” he said.
Montoya said that the firm is already checking where these errors may have come from.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also echoed his statement who said that any changes or disparities in their data need to directly come from the manufacturer otherwise these are just allegations in the data.
“We have ongoing negotiations with them but it is right that they are responsible to provide us with that adequate information as to these allegations regarding their study,” she said.
In a report by New York Times, scientists have questioned the efficacy rate of AstraZeneca after it reported a 90 percent effectivity on the group who received half doses while a 62 percent was seen from those who were granted the two full doses.
This was also confirmed to Reuters by an official at the firm who said that the initial half dosage was really just a mistake which they have decided to push through.