Philippines seals deal for 40 mln Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 doses

Vials of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine are pictured at a vaccination center in Geneva, Switzerland on February 3, 2021. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

  • Pfizer BioNTech bulk vaccine shipments begin August by
  • Philippines have secured 113 million doses from vaccine suppliers
  • Government wants to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos

MANILA, June 20 (Reuters) – The Philippine government has signed a contract to supply 40 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) in its largest coronavirus vaccine deal to date.

Shipment of the vaccine under several brands of coronavirus syringes approved for emergency use in the Southeast Asian country will begin in August, Carlito Galvez, head of government COVID-19 vaccine procurement, said Sunday.

The Philippines launched a program last week to vaccinate 35 million people who work outside of their homes while continuing to vaccinate priority sectors such as health workers and elderly citizens in hopes of herd immunity this year. Continue reading

More than 8 million doses have been given, with about 6 million for the first dose, suggesting a slow adoption of the vaccine that challenges the government’s goal of vaccinating up to 70 million people this year.

Vaccine supplies around the capital, Manila, remain limited, while COVID-19 cases have increased in several provinces, making efforts to step up the vaccination campaign in a country with some of the largest infection and death rates in Asia difficult.

With the latest deal, the Philippines secured delivery of 113 million doses from five vaccine manufacturers – including China’s Sinovac (SVA.O) with 26 million cans, Russia’s Sputnik V with 10 million cans, 20 million cans from Moderna (MRNA.O) and 17 million cans from AstraZeneca.

The ramp-up comes as Taiwan expected 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to arrive from the U.S. on Sunday, which would more than double the semiconductor-producing island’s arsenal as it deals with a surge in domestic infections. Continue reading

The Philippines also expects vaccine shipments from the international COVAX facility to reach 44 million doses, while reaching 16 million doses of vaccines developed by Novavax (NVAX.O) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) are still negotiating, said Galvez.

The new agreement “will significantly strengthen our national immunization program and allow us to meet our goal of achieving herd immunity by the end of the year,” he said.

The Philippines will allow the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to be given to children ages 12-15, possibly later this year, when vaccine stocks increase and priority sectors vaccination is complete, he said. Continue reading

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Adaptation by William Mallard

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