Philippines signs initial deal with Moderna for Covid vaccines

Moderna is among the five vaccine-makers the Philippines has inked term sheets with.
Moderna is among the five vaccine-makers the Philippines has inked term sheets with.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (BLOOMBERG, XINHUA) - The Philippines has signed a preliminary deal with Moderna to supply its coronavirus vaccines to the South-east Asian nation, with a final agreement likely this month.

Moderna is among the five vaccine-makers the Philippines has inked term sheets with for about 108 million doses, said Mr Carlito Galvez, who heads the nation's vaccine programme.

He did not specify how many doses are being sought from Moderna, although he earlier said that there are talks for up to 20 million doses.

The Philippines, which has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in the region, aims to buy 148 million doses this year to vaccinate up to 70 per cent of its population and aid the recovery of an economy that's seen to remain in recession until this quarter.

The Department of Health on Wednesday reported 1,266 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the country’s total tally to 530,118. The death toll rose to 10,942 after 68 more patients died from the coronavirus epidemic.

The Philippines, which has about 110 million population, has tested more than 7.4 million people since the viral disease emerged in January last year.

Mr Galvez said the government plans to administer the first batch of 117,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the World Health Organisation-led Covax facility to around 56,000 healthcare workers in four government Covid-19 hospitals in Metro Manila.

He said the vaccine to be delivered this month will also be administered to health workers in a public hospital in Davao City in the southern Philippines and another hospital in Cebu City in the central Philippines.

Mr Galvez said the 117,000 doses could only inoculate 58,500 nurses, doctors, and medical workers. The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos this year, starting with healthcare workers, the elderly, and the poor communities.