BOI bullish about investments in vaccine manufacturing


    The Board of Investments (BOI) is confident of getting vaccine manufacturers to set up their facilities in the Philippines but the earliest to get a deal sealed is by 2022.

    BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo in a press briefing over the weekend said there are at least five technical sources for vaccine manufacturing from Korea, India and China and possibly from the US.

    This developed as six local companies — Unilab, Greentech, Glovax Biotech, IG Biotech, New Marketlink and Lloyds Laboratories — have expressed interest to invest in vaccine manufacturing in the country.

    Corazon Dichosa, BOI executive director, told reporters most of the six local are still looking for technical partners as well as a vaccine platform.

    Dichosa said this will determine the cost of the project as well as the facility that will be established for that.

    Dichosa said the would-be proponents are likely to start with the manufacture of flu vaccines.

    Among the six, Dichosa said Glovax Biotech appears to be in the most advanced stage as it has identified its partner, South Korea’s Eubiologics which developed EuCorVac-19 Eubiologics in partnership with POP Biotechnologies of the US.

    Once it gets egulatory approval, Dichosa said, Glovax Biotech can manufacture the main ingredient or active material of the vaccine that would enable it to do initial clinical trials. Glovax Biotech has set its project cost at P7 billion.

    An option, Dichosa said, is for the manufacturers with a technical partner, to engage in fill and finish.

    In pharmaceutical, manufacturers in fill and finish will import the antigen and fill the vaccine in vials or ampoules.

    Dichosa said this will entail lower investment cost of P300 million for one modular facility for one type of vaccine.

    On the technical side, Rodolfo said, those which have serious intent to co-produce vaccines here are Russia’s Gamalea Institute which manufactures COVID-19 Sputnik V followed by EU Biologics, through Glovax Biotech.

    Rodolfo said Chinese and Indian proponents have also been talking with the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

    The BOI is also in discussions with a US university-based research center that treats vaccine manufacturing as a public good and is thus willing to license and share their vaccine technology.

    “We cannot expect to manufacture vaccines for COVID but we could capture the tail-end.

    We should at least get a fill and finish facility so that it will be easier to secure the antigen and eventually manufacture here, It is also good to focus not just on COVID vaccine, but also a broad (kinds of vaccines),” Rodolfo added. – Irma Isip