6 firms mull vaccine manufacturing plants in PH

AT least six local companies are considering building vaccine manufacturing plants that will allow the Philippines to be self-sufficient, according to the Department of Science and Technology.

DoST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara. DOST Photo

DoST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara said that there are discussions with government agencies to create either a fill-and-finish facility or a full-fledged vaccine manufacturing factory.

A fill-and-finish facility will only fill a ready-made vaccine antigen into smaller vials for distribution, while a vaccine manufacturing facility will also include a research and development segment that will allow clinical trials.

Guevara said that having a vaccine manufacturing facility will allow the government to sustain its National Immunization Program, provide adequate doses to the potential annual vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), and prepare the country for the next global pandemic.

While Guevara did not name the companies who have shown interest due to non-disclosure agreements, Filipino vaccine distributor Glovax had told The Manila Times that it plans to build a P7-billion vaccine manufacturing plant together with its South Korean partner Eubiologics, Inc.

Aside from vaccine manufacturing, the DoST is also spearheading the creation of a Virology Institute of the Philippines that will study human viruses and prepare the country for future pandemics.

It has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as a priority measure the bill creating the institute.