Govt support key to private sector vaccine purchase

The private sector would not be able to acquire millions of doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines for its employees and economic frontliners without the support of the government, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Jose Maria Concepcion 3rd said on Tuesday.

Concepcion, also founder of Go Negosyo, commended vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. for supporting the private sector-led vaccine procurement and distribution program.

“Without Secretary Galvez’s support, the private sector will not be able to access any vaccines. Secretary Galvez trusted the private sector. It was this mutual trust between the public and the private sector that made all of these possible,” he said in a statement.

“Secretary Galvez has a clear plan of bringing in 160 million doses to the country from different vaccine manufacturers — Sinovac, Novavax, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya, Pfizer and from the Covax Facility. The overall portion for the private sector here would be around 15 million to 20 million doses coming from AstraZeneca, Moderna and Novavax,” Concepcion said.

The first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses procured by 36 private companies are expected to arrive in May and June.

“The bulk of our orders from the second batch of the AstraZeneca orders, to the Moderna, and Novavax orders, will be coming by the third and fourth quarter,” Concepcion added.

In November, the private companies secured 2.6 million vaccines doses under a tripartite arrangement with the national government and the British drugmaker.

Another supply deal for additional vaccine doses was sealed in January.

Once the maker of Covaxin vaccine obtains the government’s approval for emergency use in the country, Concepcion said around 1 million doses could arrive in the second quarter of the year.

Under the emergency use authorization status of all the vaccines around the world, vaccines can only be procured by the government.

And so for the private sector to secure vaccines for their employees, a tripartite agreement had to be made. This is how the tripartite agreement model, pioneered by Go Negosyo’s “A Dose of Hope,” came to be.

It was crafted through the partnership of Go Negosyo and AstraZeneca with Concepcion and Lotis Ramin, AstraZeneca’s country president, and this model was adopted for succeeding private sector vaccine purchases — for Moderna, Novavax and Covaxin.

At the same time, Galvez said the government was not requiring firms to donate 50 percent of their purchased coronavirus vaccines to the public sector.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, he said it was vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca, not the government, which required firms that will roll out its vaccines to donate 50 percent to the government.

Through the private sector and the local government units, the Philippine government was able to secure 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through a tripartite agreement.

Galvez said of all the vaccine brands, it was only AstraZeneca that made the demand.

He has proposed the implementation of simultaneous vaccinations by the government and the private sector to balance the safety of healthcare workers and sustain the economy.

The government will facilitate the vaccination of individuals under the A1 to A3 priority groups.

A1 category includes frontliners from private and public health institutions; health professionals; non-professionals such as students, nursing aides and janitors; village health workers and national and local government frontliners.

The A2 category covers senior citizens while falling under A3 are individuals with comorbidities.

The private sector will facilitate the inoculation of Filipinos under the A4 priority group such as uniformed personnel and other essential frontliners.

The country has so far received 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax Facility and 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by China.

The government aims to inoculate 70 percent of the total population, or about 70 million Filipinos, before the end of the year.

This will supposedly trigger “herd immunity,” a form of indirect protection when a sufficient percentage of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker hailed the approval of the Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use in the Philippines.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology’s application for Sputnik V’s emergency use in the country based on its phase three clinical trial results of 91.6 percent against Covid-19.

The data was published in the respected British medical journal The Lancet, saying the vaccine generated a robust immune response.

San Jose del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes, chairman of the House Committee on People’s Participation, said Sputnik’s high performance for those aged 60 and above makes it welcome news for senior citizens who will be prioritized in the country’s vaccination program.

In an interview with The Manila Times after the vaccine was given approval, Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that has bankrolled the vaccine’s development, said the country was the first that showed interest in the vaccine even during its development.

He added that the first shipments of the vaccine will arrive in April, and they are now negotiating with the government’s vaccine cluster on the amount of the first shipment.