After more than one year into a global pandemic that has infected more than 800,000, killed more than 14,000, and crippled the economy, President Rodrigo Duterte has given the go-signal to the economic team to find ways to encourage the private sector to manufacture vaccines in the country.
Because our government leaders were unable to predict that the pandemic would not end anytime soon, and that countries without the ability to produce their own vaccines would remain at the mercy of limited vaccine supply globally, the Philippines had no plans to attract vaccine manufacturers to set up production facilities in the country.
“The President had already given instructions for the concerned agencies to encourage our private sector to go into vaccine manufacturing,” Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum earlier this week.
“We also need to come up with our own initiative rather than just depending and relying on global supply,” he added.
The Philippines Covid-19 vaccination drive has yet to start in earnest because most of the shots that arrived in the country, so far, have been donations as the government has yet to receive the jabs it belatedly ordered.
The country used to have a history for manufacturing vaccines. In the 1930s, there was a vaccine and serum laboratory in Alabang that used to manufacture vaccines for tetanus and tuberculosis. Back in 1909, the Bureau of Science offered vaccines for diseases like diphtheria, cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
The initiative to encourage vaccine manufacturers to set up manufacturing facilities in the Philippines in order to guarantee we have our own supply may be a bit late, but it is something a weary Filipino nation can look forward to. The plan to encourage the private sector to give our densely populated country the much-needed ability to produce vaccines within our borders might not produce the results that we urgently need but at the very least, that decision, if it does come to fruition one day, can prepare us for the next pandemic.*