Vaccines against COVID-19 may be made available commercially in the Philippine market by 2023.
The government, however, will still provide free shots to children, senior citizens, and the indigent population, even if the vaccines will already be for sale by then, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 said.
“If there will be commercialization maybe next year, we will still have free vaccines, definitely, like the free shots of cholera, measles, and polio. We still have a portion to provide from the government, especially to children, the elderly and for poor communities that cannot afford to buy vaccines),” Galvez said in an interview during the launch of the vaccination rollout at QualiMed Clinic in Makati City on Friday.
Galvez said the government would also push through with a centralized procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
“When we talked to the manufacturers, they said that they are more interested in selling their vaccines to the national government,” he said, citing faster transactions as orders are in bulk.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration has so far approved Emergency Use Authorization for all COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, the chief of the country’s Vaccine Expert Panel said it was waiting for more data on COVID-19 vaccines for 2 to 5-year-olds.
“We are evaluating something, but the data is insufficient, so it appears to be a rolling submission, in a way. Some data came, but these are not yet enough,” said Dr. Nina Gloriani.
Gloriani noted an emergency use authorization requires data proving the efficacy of a vaccine on at least half of participants in a Phase 3 trial.
“Without that, we will wait. Our evaluation is not done haphazardly, especially since this is for children,” she said.
About 56.4 million of the Philippines’ 110 million people have been fully vaccinated so far against COVID-19.
Minors aged 12 to 17 started getting COVID-19 jabs in October last year, while the vaccination of 5 to 11-year-olds is expected to start in February.