Australia’s CSL might be tapped by Philippines as potential vaccine source

Australia’s biotech giant CSL and its partner the University of Queensland might be tapped by the Philippine government as its possible source for COVID-19 vaccines.

Philippines Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are planning to hold talks with CSL representatives as the country searches for other possible sources of Covid-19 vaccines.

The Philippines currently has the most coronavirus infections and the second largest number of COVID-19 deaths in Southeast Asia.

The country with more than 100 million people makes it a potentially large market for vaccine suppliers.

Vergeire said government officials would meet representatives of CSL and the University of Queensland, but did not give a timeframe as the government plans to diversify its vaccine sources.

CSL, Australia’s largest biotech firm, plans to manufacture two different COVID-19 vaccine candidates, one of which is in partnership with the University of Queensland. The first doses are targeted to reach the market in early 2021.

The Philippines is also in talks with the World Health Organization, Russia, China, Pfizer Inc., and Moderna Inc. as it looks to secure a supply of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has promised his country, which has had one of the world’s longest and strictest coronavirus lockdowns, would be “back to normal” by December. Duterte hopes to secure affordable vaccines particularly through his good ties with Russia and China.

The Southeast Asian nation, which has more than 237,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, plans to buy 40 million doses worth $400 million for at least 20 million people.