The Philippines signed Thursday another deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to bring the total order of COVID-19 vaccines to 17 million as the government moved to build up its supply and end the pandemic.
The fresh agreement follows the initial tripartite deal that involved the country's richest businessmen in late November 2020 for some 2.6 million doses of vaccines.
For the second deal, around 300 conglomerates pitched in for the order, Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said during the signing. Local government units also joined the signing of the agreement.
"These vaccines are really the way forward to help Filipinos save lives and livelihoods," Concepcion said. "The Philippines will definitely be not left behind in this fight."
"Rest assured that we are doing our best to ensure your health and safety, and put an end to this pandemic," COVID-19 immunization czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.
AstraZeneca earlier said that its COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed with the University of Oxford has shown "an average efficacy of 70%" in trials. The results ranged between 62% and 90% efficacy depending on the vaccine dosage.
This is lower compared with the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines trialed by rivals Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which have come in at around 95%, but higher than China's Sinovac which has come in at 50.4% in the latest trial.
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccines are projected to cost P610 for two doses.
The Philippines hopes to catch up with other countries that have started their own COVID-19 immunization programs, with an initial delivery of 50,000 vaccine doses from China's Sinovac scheduled to arrive in February.
The government is also in talks with other vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnsons for supplies.
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