QUEZON CITY, Aug. 6 (PIA) -- The Philippines through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) commits to reserve 3 million vaccines for COVID 19 or 3 percent of the corresponding population as it joins the COVAX Facility to ensure the country's access once these vaccines are available.
DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Pena in a virtual presser in Malacanang said that the decision was elevated to the Inter-Agency Taskforce on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID). The task force decision is for the Philippines to commit 3 percent of its population and can be bought through COVAX Facility but actual purchase may be allowed up to 20% of the population.
"Nung pinaalam sa amin na ang COVAX ay kailangan ng magcommit at minimum of 3 percent of the equivalent of our population, yan po ay iniakyat namin sa IATF for decision at ang decision ay mag commit ang Pilipinas ng 3 percent pero actually po puwedeng bumili through COVAX up to 20% of the population," Dela Pena said.
What is uncertain according to Dela Pena is the number of doses needed because for diseases usually two doses are being given.
The estimated cost of the vaccine per dose according to Dela Pena is $10 or almost 500 in Philippine peso and with this, IATF recommends the subscription of 3 million vaccines which may amount to PhP1.5 billion.
However, Dela Pena emphasized that DOST's role as head of the Sub TWG on vaccine is to ensure collaboration and they are not involved in the procurement of vaccines.
"Inuulit ko po, sa DOST na nag he head sa Sub TWG on vaccines and aming role ay ayusin ang pag co-collaborate at yung pag-order ng bakuna ay di namin sakop," Dela Pena emphasized.
Meanwhile, DOST also clarified that the country has no vaccine development program because it has no facilities to undertake the study, however, there are two tracks, one where the Philippines joined the WHO Solidarity Trial on vaccines. Dela Pena said the country has nominated a Filipino expert Dr. Nina Gloriani the former Dean for UP College of Public Health who will be part of the WHO Solidarity Trial in choosing which medicines to undergo clinical trials.
"Sa vaccine wala naman tayong sariling vaccine development program dahil wala naman tayong facilties at yan po naman at ang dalawang track na sinusundan ay yung pagsama natin sa WHO Solidarity trial at nagmoninate na tayo ng isang Filipino expert" Dela Pena clarified.
Also, Dela Pena said that there's an ongoing negotiation for the five-institution allowed by the Sub -TWG of the IATF.
These are 3 institutions from China and two from Taiwan according to the Secretary are ahead in clinical trials.
"Meron tayong ongoing negotiations for five institutions na pinayagan ng Sub-TWG ng IATF na makipagnegotiate, tatlo sa China at dalawa sa Taiwan at very ahead in terms of clinical trials", Dela Pena said.
He added that some of these institutions clinical trials are already on Phase 3. If these collaborations pushes through, these institutions will conduct their clinical trials in the country for the purpose of meeting FDA's requirements. Dela Pena added that the country is not eliminating too the possibility of its bilateral partners like Russia that has its advanced development.
In any case that vaccines will be available earlier than the clinical trials being undertaken, the government and private sector according to Dela Pena can procure as long as it passes through FDA.
Dela Pena said that with the country's participation in the WHO Solidarity trial and bilateral agreements with the 5 institutions it may take until middle of 2021 for a vaccine to be availabe, although there are certain countries that are showing indications of advancement in their trials.
"Pero kung ang pag-uusapan ay yung WHO Solidarity Trials and bilateral agreements natin dito sa limang pinayagan, dito po siguro kung e-estimate natin yung pagdadaang proceso ay baka abutin tayo ng middle of 2021, pero yung iba ay nag indicate na mas advanced sila, tulad ng indication ng Russia na may advance ng ginawa, baka mas maagang available pa para sa atin", Dela Pena added.
"If this will happen, the government through DOH, is now studying on the procurement and on how will the allocation of the vaccines that will come from the government while the private sector once the vaccine is available, can procure for themselves", Dela Pena said.. (MBP/PIA-IDPD)