Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd has offered to help bring the India-developed Covaxin to the Philippines so workers in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can get their Covid-19 shots.
Concepcion, also the founder of Go Negosyo, revealed the negotiations for Covaxin during a meeting with Ambica International Corp. and IP Biotech, the vaccine’s distributors.
“Once Covaxin is approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and our negotiations bear fruit, we are hopeful that we could offer these to our MSMEs that have not yet secured their doses from previous vaccine manufacturers,” Concepcion said in a statement.
He said he hopes to be able to secure from 8 million to 20 million doses of Covaxin.
The country’s partnership with India, considered as the world’s largest vaccine
manufacturer, will be “significant and a game-changer,” according to Concepcion.
He expects the Covaxin to be delivered by the second quarter, or around May, and “priced at the best possible minimum.”
The Covaxin “is promising, as it was the one used by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and has posted 81-percent efficacy from the interim results of its phase 3 trial. It is now only awaiting FDA’s approval,” Concepcion said.
Also present at the meeting were India’s Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran; Ambica International Corp. President Kamal Abichandani and Vice President Deepu Bhatia; IP Biotech Chairman Enrique Gonzalez and Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Noel Miranda; Vice President for Finance and Treasurer of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc. Rajan Uttamchandani; and A Dose Hope Program Lead Josephine Romero.
Kumaran sought Concepcion’s support for the vaccine delivery since Concepcion was a Padma Shri Awardee in 2017.
On Thursday, Kumaran said once agreements were signed, the Philippines would receive at least 30 million doses of the Novavax vaccine in the second quarter or early third quarter of the year.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and representatives from the Departments of Health (DoH) and Finance (DoF) flew to India to negotiate with Novavax manufacturer Serum Institute of India.
No pause to AstraZeneca jabs
In a related development, the government sees no need to stop administering AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 despite reports of vaccination pauses in several European countries after people who received the vaccine developed blood clots.
Denmark has suspended AZD1222 vaccinations for two weeks after a 60-year-old woman who was inoculated developed a blood clot and died.
Norway and Iceland have also suspended vaccination pending investigation into whether the blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
Austria had earlier suspended inoculations of the same vaccine after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving the jab, but the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in its preliminary probe that the batch used in the country was not likely to blame for the nurse’s death.
The EMA said its safety committee is confident the “vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing,”
The DoH and FDA concurred with the EMA that there is no indication that AZD1222 caused the clotting, which is not listed as a side effect with the vaccine.
“Everything will be undergoing the process of causality assessment, at malalaman natin pagkatapos, pero ang sinasabi ng ating eksperto… it is about a small number na nagkaroon ng ganitong incident, so parang sinasabi nila (and we will know this after [the investigation], but our experts had said that it was only a small number who got this incident, so what they are saying is that) the benefit will outweigh the risk,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
Vergeire said the country will continue AZD1222 vaccinations since the data about the clots were still “inconclusive.”
She said the only major contraindication of all vaccines being administered under Emergency Use Authorization are severe anaphylaxis or allergic reactions from the vaccines’ ingredients.
People with existing conditions are advised to consult first with a medical professional to determine if they can take any vaccine.
The DoH and FDA, together with the National Task Force Against Covid-19, have assured the public they were monitoring all the vaccines being administered in the country.
The Philippines has so far received 525,000 doses of AZD1222. The doses are reserved for medical frontliners.
15,000 health workers inoculated
As of Thursday, close to 15,000 medical frontline workers in military treatment facilities (MTFs) have received Covid-19 shots after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) transported 39,000 vials to the facilities.
“The AFP’s delivery of the coronavirus vaccines is now in full gear in support of the government’s vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic. With the ongoing distribution and inoculation of our frontline personnel, we hope to contribute to the speedy restoration of normalcy in the country,” AFP Chief of Staff Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, said.
Sixteen MTFs in Luzon received 30, 600 vials of CoronaVac, and have inoculated 13,555 personnel. Among the facilities in the National Capital Region were Manila Naval Hospital, Philippine Air Force General Hospital, Philippine Army General Hospital, Camp Aguinaldo Station Hospital and V. Luna Medical Center
Other MTFs in Luzon that have received vaccine shipments were Naval Station Julhasan Arasain Medical Dispensary in Albay; Camp Elias Angeles; Cavite Naval Hospital Station Hospital in Camarines Sur; Camp Guillermo Nakar Station Hospital in Lucena; Camp Aquino Station Hospital in Tarlac; Basa Air Base Hospital and Air Force City Hospital in Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay Station Hospital in Nueva Ecija; Fort Del Pilar Station Hospital in Benguet; and Naval Station Ogbenar Medical Station and Wallace Air Station Medical Infirmary in La Union.
In the Visayas, 4,200 vials were delivered to five MTFs with 684 frontline personnel vaccinated.
The facilities were Camp Vicente Lukban Station Hospital in Samar; Camp Lapu-Lapu Station Hospital and Naval Base Rafael Ramos Medical Dispensary in Cebu; Benito N Ebuen Air Base Hospital and Camp Peralta Station Hospital in Capiz.
Six MTFs in Mindanao received 4,200 doses with 730 personnel vaccinated. The medical facilities were Edwin Andrews Air Base Hospital in Zamboanga del Sur; Camp Navarro General Hospital; Camp Gonzalo H Siongco Station Hospital in Maguindanao; Camp Manuel T Yan Sr Station Hospital in Davao City; Camp Panacan Station Hospital in Davao del Norte; Camp Evangelista Station Hospital in Misamis Oriental.
WITH CHRISTIAN CROW MAGHANOY