MANILA – The government is negotiating with Serum Institute of India (SII) to study the possibility of local production of vaccines in the Philippines, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Wednesday.
Galvez, also the vaccine czar, said one of the topics tackled during his recent trip to India was the possibility of reviving the local vaccine production in the Philippines.
"Tayo rin po ay nakipag-usap sa Serum Institute of India upang pag-aralan ang posibilidad na ibalik ang kakayahan ng ating bansa na makapag-produce ng sarili nitong bakuna (We also spoke with the Serum Institute of India to study the possibility of reviving our country's capability to produce its own vaccine)," Galvez said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum.
He said the Philippines used to have the capacity to produce vaccine as it donated vaccines to China in 1938.
Galvez said the SII, considered the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is willing to assist the Philippines to produce its own vaccine.
“Ang ganda po ng SII. Meron silang 136 na scientists at gusto nilang tulungan tayo na tayo ay makapag-produce ng sarili nating bakuna (The SII has 136 scientists and they want to help us produce our own vaccines)," he said.
He said once the country regains its vaccine production capability, it would ensure a steady supply of vaccines during health crisis like the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
"Ang mga hakbang na ito ay bahagi ng agresibong stratehiya ng pamahalaan na magkaroon ng isang stable at ng reliable source ng anti-Covid vaccines at tuluyang wakasan ang pandemya (These steps are part of the government's aggressive strategies to sustain a stable and reliable source of anti-Covid vaccines and totally end the pandemic)," Galvez said.
He added the Philippines is also working with the SII "not only for the containment of disease but also to push disease elimination by 2022."
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) also presented a three-year program for the expansion of its vaccine research and development, he said.
“It will require an economy of scale investment. Para sa 'tin po talaga na magkaroon ng definitive na source ng vaccine (This is really for us to have a definitive source of vaccines)," he added.
On Tuesday, Galvez announced the Philippines has signed a supply agreement with the SII for the acquisition of 30 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. (PNA)