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Certain misinformation was circulated online this week which caused some confusion with regards to the private sector’s access to vaccines.
Clearing some of the confusion, I would like to clarify how the government has been instrumental in making it possible for the private sector to acquire vaccines for its employees and economic frontliners.
From October to November, we had talks with AstraZeneca on how to procure the vaccines for our employees and our government frontline workers. AstraZeneca said that they can only sell the vaccines to the government since COVID-19 vaccines today are still under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and as such, vaccines can only be procured by the government.
With this in mind, we had a conversation with the government, through Secretary Carlito Galvez, to allow us to procure on their behalf—with the private sector paying for the vaccines, but all the vaccines would still be under the government’s property and regulation.
We endorsed that half of what will be procured would be allocated for employees and the other half would be for the government frontliners. Sec.Galvez accepted this term as for one, it would ensure doses for our government frontliners, and on the other, it would lessen the population that the national government would need to vaccinate.
So for us to secure this agreement, together with Lotis Ramin of AstraZeneca, we crafted the tripartite agreement model. We finalized this type of agreement with our “A Dose of Hope” initiative launched on Nov. 27, 2020. The initiative was made possible first, by the government through its vaccine czar Sec. Galvez, second by AstraZeneca, which allowed us to procure for our employees and our government frontliners, and lastly by our pioneer company donors which took the risk with us—given that AstraZeneca at that time had not yet secured their MHRA or Philippine FDA approval. We are happy that this model is now being adopted for the succeeding private sector vaccine purchases—for Moderna, Novavax, and Covaxin.
Given this, without Sec. Galvez’s support, we would not be able to access any vaccines. Secretary Galvez trusted us, the private sector. It was this mutual trust between the public and the private sector that made all of these possible. With my talks with Sec. Galvez, he updated me on his clear plan of bringing in 160 million doses into the country from different vaccine manufacturers—Sinovac, Novavax, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnsons & Johnson, Gamaleya, Pfizer, and the remaining from the COVAX facility.
The overall portion for the private sector would be around 15 to 20 million doses coming from AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Novavax. Hopefully, once the EUA of Covaxin is approved, there is a chance that one million doses of the Covaxin will arrive in the second quarter to be allocated for the private sector.
As we now see the vaccines come in, Sec. Galvez and I are working to ensure that the private sector vaccine implementation will run smoothly. This is why the private sector has secured one of the best logistics partners in the country as it would be key in the implementation and rollout of the vaccine. In the case of the doses that will be coming from AstraZeneca, we have decided to go with Zuellig Pharma Corporation. Moderna will also go with Zuellig, while Novavax will go with Unilab.
The first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine order is around 2.6 million doses and this will be coming in by May and June. On this matter, I had a recent discussion with Secretary Galvez reiterating the private sector’s support for the government. Also, as the NCR now serves as the epicenter of the resurgence of cases, together with Tessie Sy-Coson of the SM Group and Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp., we proposed to the government to direct the 50 percent donation to government priority sectors in NCR. This can be done as soon as the doses for May and June arrive. This may also coincide with the inoculation of our economic frontliners, to which the other half of the doses are allocated for. Adopting this approach could provide the vulnerable sectors and essential sectors from both the public and private sector in the NCR the maximum protection.
Our donation to the government does not stop with the vaccines. We also want to extend and further assist in the end-to-end flow of the donation to the vaccination centers. We would like to augment our donations by including and providing logistical and supply chain management services. So in this scenario, with the government’s approval, we would like to include and cover the government frontliners and priority sectors included in our donations with the economic frontliners inoculation—tapping Zuellig to deliver the needed services.