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Local vaccines soon, Trade Chief assures

The manufacturers have requested government for green lane assistance on government permits and faster processing as they vowed to subscribe to all requirements and submit documents.

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Efforts to produce local vaccines have started as four laboratories confirmed their intention to manufacture jabs for future use for the Philippines to wean reliance from foreign pharmaceutical companies.

During President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s “Talk to the Nation” on Thursday night, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez reported that as of 15 April, one of the medical supply companies, United Laboratories, has already committed to manufacturing local vaccines starting with anti-Covid jabs.

“If partnership with technology partners is concluded by 2022, a form, fill, and finish plant can be operational by 2023. They also plan to export to other ASEAN countries,” Lopez said.

As for Biotechnology Company Glovax, Lopez said it has signed an agreement with its technology partner Eubiologics (Korea) for local vaccine manufacturing.

The proposed location for Glovax facility will be in Clark, Pampanga, and the start of operation of the form/fill and finish facility is October 2022, amounting to P7.5 billion, the Trade chief said.

Further, the IG Biotech Group, a coalition of biotech and pharmaceutical experts, is also on its way to produce anti-Covid vaccines, as well as influenza multivalent vaccines and pneumococcal polyvalent vaccines.

“The group will enter into an MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the Board of Investment (BoI) and National Development Company (NDC) on support and investment facilitation. Plans to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials (are also in place),” Lopez reported to the President.

The Dr. Zen Biotech Inc. has also confirmed to produce second Generation Recombinant Vaccine for Covid-19, Monoclonal Antibodies and General Injectable.

“Technology providers are from India and China but still looking for possible partners from the US (Moderna and J&J). It will have a form/fill facility in First Bulacan Industrial Estate, equipped with class 100 Biotech Sterile RnD. There is an ongoing design and construction, operational by 2022. Project Cost of the Phase 1 is at $20M, while Phase 2 is at $20M. They are also open to meet with IP/IG Biotech. The meeting is scheduled on 20 April,” the Trade chief relayed.

In attaining this, the manufacturers have requested the government for green lane assistance on government permits and faster processing as they vowed to subscribe to all requirements and submit documents. They need faster processing, however, as well as government procurement of locally produced, subject to standards, specs, and prices.

MSME loans

Meanwhile, Lopez reported that as of 14 April, the DTI, through its lending arm Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), has approved 26,563 loan applications amounting to P3,509,741,508.

Through its Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program, which ushers financing scheme for MSME during the pandemic with 0% interest, collateral, and a longer grace period, the total amount released is at P2,899,924,026 for 23,603 MSME applicants.

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