Philippines can secure up to to 25 million doses of Moderna, Arcturus vaccines —envoy to US

December 18, 2020 - 4:31 PM
Christmas season in Philippines in pandemic
People wearing face masks and face shields as preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) attend the first of the nine-day novena mass outside the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, in Parañaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Dec. 16, 2020. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be able to secure between four to 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc and Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc , the Southeast Asia country’s ambassador to Washington said on Friday.

The U.S. companies were ready to supply the vaccines from the third quarter of 2021, Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a statement, if his government found their proposals acceptable.

“We are hoping our government will consider the promising candidates of Moderna and Arcturus for inclusion in our country’s pool of anti-COVID-19 vaccines,” Romualdez said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant Moderna emergency use authorization soon. Arcturus expects to start distributing its vaccine in the first quarter of next year after early stage trials showed promising results.

Moderna and Arcturus did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At a news conference, Philippine Health Ministry Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire welcomed signs of progress in the negotiations but said each vaccine candidate would need to get regulatory approval to ensure safety and efficacy.

The Philippines plans to buy 25 million doses of a vaccine supplied by China’s Sinovac Biotech for delivery by March. In addition, the private sector agreed last month to acquire 2.6 million shots of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in the nation’s first supply deal for a coronavirus vaccine.

The Southeast Asian nation had missed out on an opportunity to buy 10 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for delivery in January, Romualdez said.

With 454,447 infections and 8,850 deaths, the Philippines has reported the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections and casualties in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies