The Philippines discussing local vaccine production with 6 firms

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said its investments promotion agency is currently discussing local production of vaccines with six companies.

“The Board of Investments (BOI) is talking to about six local companies on their plans for local vaccine manufacturing. We are doing this so we don’t depend on imports for the vaccine in the future,” he said in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte broadcasted late Wednesday evening on March 25.

Secretary Lopez, who is also the BOI chair, has yet to disclose the local companies eyeing to manufacture the vaccine.

Previously, Filipino pharmaceutical firm Glovax Biotech said it is in talks with the BOI to produce the EuCorVac-19 in the Philippines with its Korean partner.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Serum Institute of India also hopes for Philippine production of its Covid-19 vaccine.

Lopez noted that 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.

For instance, the country is now producing 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.

Today, the Philippines also produces one of the raw materials of face masks, the meltblown or mask filter, from zero local capacity pre-pandemic.

“Investment registration continues to rise despite this pandemic,” Lopez said.

In 2020, the BOI still hit the second highest investment approval in its history despite the ongoing global health and economic crisis.

BOI-approved investments in 2020 reached PHP1.02 trillion from PHP1.14 trillion in 2019.

For the first quarter of 2021, project registration with the BOI jumped by 64.65% to PHP137 billion, Lopez said, further adding that these investments are expected to create 12,000 jobs in the future.

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