Davao eyes Astrazeneca as possible supplier of anti-COVID vaccines

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 January) – The city council approved during a special session on Thursday an ordinance authorizing Mayor Sara Duterte to begin negotiations with Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals (Philippines) Inc. for a supply of anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Authored by Councilor J. Melchor B. Quitain Jr., the ordinance grants Duterte the authority to enter into a “confidentiality agreement” with the British drug maker, “concerning business arrangements” relative to AZD1222, also known as the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, and its availability for distribution.

Quitain said no vaccines will be procured at this stage yet.

He explained the agreement is necessary for talks between the two parties to begin but would not oblige the city to procure vaccines from Astrazeneca.

He said the agreement will not bar the city government from transacting with other vaccine makers.

“This simply means that if the mayor will decide to sign this and proceed with discussions, she will not be held hostage to the effect that she is obligated to transact with them regarding this vaccine,” he said.

He added the agreement is necessary for the city government to proceed with “conducting discussions and negotiations” with the vaccine maker.

“I believe that, in the course of discussing with Astrazeneca, there might be certain confidential information… and for the protection of all the parties concerned if ever the city will not proceed with transacting with this company, all information of confidential nature discussed or presented during the discussions and negotiations will be strictly kept confidential,” he said.

The council did not discuss the budget for the vaccines and how many doses would be purchased.

Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, who chairs the committee on finance, assured the local government has sufficient funds to procure the vaccines.

“I am very sure that we have enough funds for this. That is why the mayor will be negotiating to look for supply. I’m very sure that very soon if there will be final negotiation, it will be referred back to us for appropriation,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved the tripartite agreement among local government units (LGUs), national government and pharmaceutical companies allowing the LGUs to purchase the vaccines.

Astrazeneca applied for emergency use authorization in the Philippines on Wednesday.

As of January 6, the Department of Health Davao Region recorded 13,144 total COVID-19 cases, with 1,630 active ones, 10,970 recoveries and 544 deaths.

Of the total cases, Davao City reported 9,194, Davao de Oro 617, Davao del Norte 1,664, Davao del Sur 974, Davao Occidental 129, and Davao Oriental 566. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)