Talks on for local vaccine production

The Philippine government is currently in discussion with six corporations for the local production of vaccines.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Board of Investments (BOI) is spearheading the discussions with the six companies.

“We are doing this so we don’t depend on imports for the vaccine in the future,” he said in a meeting with President  Duterte broadcasted recently on television. Lopez, who also chairs the BOI has yet to identify the local companies eyeing to manufacture the vaccine.

Earlier, Filipino pharmaceutical firm Glovax Biotech said it is in talks with the BOI to produce the EuCorVac-19 in the country with its Korean partner. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. also said Serum Institute of India also aims Philippine production of its Covid-19 vaccine.

Lopez said the BOI has been inviting investors to locate in the country to generate more local jobs and help the economy recover. The BOI is also pushing for product localization and align to its “Buy Local Go Lokal” campaign.

“We have to buy local. This is what we are pushing for. Because if we buy local, we can quickly revive the economy by re-stimulating the economy,” he said. The country now produces some 3.2 million pieces of coverall personal protective equipment from zero at the onset of the pandemic.

From one manufacturer of medical grade face mask before, several investments in face mask manufacturing made the country capable of producing 56 million pieces per month of N88 face masks and 2.4 million pieces of N95 masks per month, Lopez added.

The country now also produces one of the raw materials for the face masks, the meltblown or mask filter.

“Investment registration continues to rise despite this pandemic,” he shared.

Last year, the BOI still hit the second highest investment approval in its history amid the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.

Records show that BOI-approved investments in 2020 reached P1.02 trillion from P1.14 trillion in 2019. For the first quarter of 2021, project registration with the BOI jumped by 64.65 percent to P137 billion, Lopez said.