The Philippines' top businessmen said they were chipping in to ensure the availability of COVID-19 vaccines as the government moves to immunize millions to help end the pandemic.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Thursday the private sector is leading efforts to procure some 2.5 million to 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from British drugmaker AstraZeneca.
"We want to ensure that the Philippines will not be left behind when the vaccines come out in 2021," Concepcion said in a statement.
AstraZeneca's vaccine is expected to cost around P500 for two doses, Concepcion said, noting that the deal, which could immunize over a million Filipinos, would likely be priced at around P600 million to P700 million.
Among businessmen joining the initiative are Ayala Corp's Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, port magnate Enrique Razon, taipan Lucio Tan, and the children of late SM shopping mall tycoon Henry Sy Sr.
"Our task extends, beyond procuring vaccines, towards helping optimize the end-to-end supply chain and distribution logistics. In this next frontier of combatting COVID 19, the private sector remains committed to our partnership with the public sector and, ultimately, to our fellow Filipinos," Zobel said in a statement.
Earlier, International Container Terminal Services Inc. said Razon would shoulder the full cost of a portion of the country's vaccine requirement, half of which will be given to employees of his conglomerate while the remainder will be reserved for port and customs employees and logistics frontliners.
Businessmen are part of Friday's tripartite deal with the government and AstraZeneca for the Philippines' plan to purchase some two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“On Friday, November 27, we will sign a tripartite agreement to donate vaccines to the government which will augment their ongoing procurement initiatives,"Concepcion said.
"We want to send a clear message to the Filipino people, especially our MSMEs, that there is hope, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel," he said.
Vaccines to be procured by the private sector will be donated to the Department of Health according to Concepcion. Half of the donations will be set aside for government frontliners, while the other 50% will cover employees in the private sector - both regular and contractual, he added.
AstraZeneca earlier announced 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 however is lower compared with the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines trialed by rivals Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna which have come in at around 95%.
The Philippines is eyeing to start immunizing its people against COVID-19 by the second quarter of next year.