MANDALUYONG CITY (27 November 2020) — The private sector once again demonstrated its unwavering support to the government’s efforts to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, as it purchased 2.6 million doses of vaccines to inoculate more than a million Filipinos in 2021.

The government, represented by National Action Plan Against COVID-19 and Vaccine Czar Sec Carlito Galvez Jr., and business leaders signed an agreement on Friday with AstraZeneca Country President Lotis Ramin.

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion, who played a crucial role in obtaining the commitment of the private sector to purchase the vaccines, took part in the event.

Under the tripartite agreement, half of the vaccines will be donated to the Philippine Government, while the other half will be used to vaccinate the essential employees of the private companies which contributed to the initiative.

Concepcion thanked the business community for continuously supporting the government’s COVID-19 interventions despite being among those who were severely affected by the health crisis.

“We thank the business sector for this. I know despite the challenges in your business, you continue to support efforts like this. You’ve supported us all the way, from testing initiatives, and now, the most vital initiative, is the cure for every Filipino out there,” he said.

In his remarks during the signing, Galvez noted that the tripartite agreement is a testament to the collective goal of nations across the globe to have an equal share of the vaccines.

“The partnership we are sealing today is a testament of our collective objective to provide all countries with equitable access to vaccines. This is the moral obligation, not only of the government, but all members of society – and humanity as a whole. A common good effort in a global context with the Bayanihan,” he said.

Galvez added: “Through this partnership, we are thinking – and acting – ahead of the virus. Through the show of unity and selflessness, which we refer to as the “Bayanihan” spirit, we are demonstrating to the world that although the pandemic knocked us down, we will rise up, come together and recover as one.”

Ramin admitted that the UK-based pharmaceutical company will not gain profit from selling the vaccine in 2021, as he emphasized that their primary goal is to ensure that all nations will have access to the vaccine once it is finally rolled out.

“Our landmark partnership with the Oxford University is anchored on the principle of equitable distribution and no profit within the pandemic. This principle inspired us, the AstraZeneca Philippines Team, to take the challenge of doing our share to help the country and we are lucky to be able to find this opportunity to partner with the private sector and the government,” she said.

Int’l community, business leaders’ support to Phl’s vaccination program

Business leaders and representatives from the international community who attended the event via virtual teleconference threw their support behind the Philippine government’s goal of vaccinating around 25 million Filipinos by 2021. With the the business sector initiatives, we can add 5-10 million more to cover the business essential workers.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce assured the government that there will be equitable access to the  vaccines once they become available.

“The British government is committed to ensuring equitable access to safe and effective vaccines that have been developed transparently,” he said.

Pruce also lauded the public-private sector initiative which aims to inoculate the Filipino people against the deadly virus .

“Faced with the unique challenge of COVID-19, we all need to pool together. And you are all, today, a very empathic example of what collaboration and commitment can achieve,” he said.

BDO Unibank and BDO Foundation Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson said the partnership between the private sector and the government is a “step towards the right direction to assure a slow but steady economic recovery from its ill effects.”

“With this vaccine, there will no longer be [a] trade-off between lives and livelihood. Starting off with our frontliners and critical support personnel, we will be able to take the first few steps to ensure a safer work environment for all as we gradually reopen,” Sy-Coson said.

The donation made by the private sector, Sy-Coson said, will help the government achieve its objective of creating herd immunity among Filipinos.

Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Agusto Zobel de Ayala said the tripartite agreement not only lays the foundation, but more importantly creates the much-needed momentum for the government’s large-scale vaccination program.

“The procurement of vaccines and the administration of a large-scale vaccination program will be one of the most important and most challenging undertakings for the next few years. I believe this can only be done through a public-private partnership, looking at a multiple vaccine portfolio strategy and this relationship with AstraZeneca is a fabulous start,” Zobel de Ayala  said.

ICTSI Board Chairman and President Enrique Razon echoed Zobel de Ayala’s statement, saying he hopes that there will be enough vaccines available for all Filipinos the soonest.

“This is our first step in our fight against this virus, and hopefully along the line, we’ll get enough vaccines to vaccinate the whole population,” Razon said.

San Miguel Corporation President and COO Ramon S. Ang considers the purchase of the vaccines as an early Christmas gift to Filipinos.

“It is an early Christmas gift to many Filipinos who are coping with the pandemic for eight  months now. We are happy to be part of this effort to contain the pandemic, protect lives, and speed up economic recovery. Vaccines give us hope for the future,” Ang noted.

Gokongwei Brothers Foundation Chairman Lance Gokongwei said he was grateful to be part of the tripartite agreement.

“We are privileged to be able to participate in this incredible group. I don’t think this would have taken off without the credibility of everyone here who were involved, all towards the common goal of assisting the Filipino people in resolving this COVID crisis,” he said.

Gratitude for private sector support

Meanwhile, Galvez expressed his gratitude to the private sector for the support it has extended to the Philippine government since the start of the pandemic.

“We are grateful to the private sector for helping the government since the enhanced community quarantine period was declared but since has been lifted; to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, for your tireless efforts to help business people recover from the crisis;  and to the international community, particularly the British Government, for supporting this life-saving initiative,” he said.

“This is the moral obligation, not only of the government, but all members of society — and humanity as a whole for [the] common good effort in [the] global context,” he added.

Based on the government’s Philippine National Vaccination Roadmap, it plans to vaccinate at least 60 to 70 million Filipino people in three to five years.

Galvez said the government aims to vaccine at least 25 million Filipino people per year. “With the active participation of our private sector, the number of Filipino people to be vaccinated will be increased to 35 million.”

He said, the three to five years vaccination program could be shortened depending on the availability of the supply of the vaccines in the global market.

Galvez however said the vaccination program is a continuing process since those who will be vaccinated in the first will undergo the same process in the following year.

The Duterte Administration is utilizing a number of modalities such as the COVAX/GAVI facility, government-to-government negotiations, tripartite agreement such as like this and multilateral arrangements, as part of its strategy to secure  a safe, effective and affordable vaccine for all Filipinos.

Medical frontliners, vulnerable sectors, poor families, uniformed personnel and essential workers will be among the first to be vaccinated by 2021.

The Testing Czar emphasized that the government is looking for at least five more vaccines for orders including Pfizer, Sinovac, Moderna, Johnsons & Johnson and Novovax.

” The government’s goal here is to normalize the lives of the Filipino people and full recovery of our economy as soon as possible time. What we guarantee to the people is that safety and efficiency of the vaccine is absolute and our paramount consideration in selecting the vaccines. Safety and Efficacy can not be compromised,” Galvez pointed out. ###