PH’s own vaccine plant in the works

A Filipino-owned company is putting up a multibillion-peso facility that will manufacture the “next generation” coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine.

Giovanni Alingog, chief executive officer of Glovax Biotech Corp., aims to build a production plant either in Subic in Zambales or Clark in Pampanga.

Glovax was the first company to distribute the vaccine for the AH1N1 or the swine flu that swept the country in 2010.

Alingog said his goal was to develop the country’s “next-generation Covid vaccine” that would be effective against new strains of the virus.

He shared his plan with The Manila Times in a telephone interview.

The vaccine Glovax will produce is the EuCorVac-19, developed by the United States-based Pop Biotechnologies and produced by its Korean partners Eubiologics and LG Chem.

EuCorVac-19 would be effective against Covid-19’s new strains, Alingog said.

He shared that his company wanted the Philippines to be self-sufficient when it came to vaccine supplies. That will eliminate the present concerns about delays in the delivery of the foreign-made vaccines.

Vaccine makers tend to supply their host countries and the rich states first, “that is why it is very timely that we are suggesting to have a local vaccine plant,” Alingog said.

A local vaccine plant would also boost the country’s economy, he noted.

Once the plant is fully operational, Glovax can produce 40 million doses of EuCorVac-19.

Alingog said Glovax plans to partner with the Philippine government in building the vaccine plant, and that the Department of Science and Technology was keen on the proposal.

He also welcomed the idea of the government taking a minority stake in the project to ensure long-term viability.

Alingog is confident the vaccine plant will become a legacy of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara confirmed that discussions with Glovax were ongoing.

She said the pandemic highlighted the need for the country to ensure a steady source of vaccines, so building a local vaccine plant is a welcome development.

She added that it would take a partnership of the government, academe and industry to develop and manufacture vaccines, and the government, through the Board of Investments, can help ventures like Glovax.

The passage of the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (Arise) and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (Create) can push the country closer to its objective to develop its own vaccine manufacturing facility.

“The Arise intends to provide grants on manufacturing, research and development, prototyping, certifications and other processes undertaken by manufacturers involving the production of Covid-19 goods, including vaccines, while the Create provides stimulus packages for enterprises engaging in similar activities,” Guevara said.