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Sugar industry to buy COVID-19 vaccines, too

Sugar industry leaders are taking steps to enjoin all stakeholders to support mass vaccination against COVID-19.

In a recent virtual conference facilitated by Sugar Regulatory Board Members Dino Yulo and Roland Beltran and TatakKalamay, industry leaders were briefed by distributors of Covovax vaccine, a recombinant vaccine developed by Novavax Inc. and distributed locally by Faberco Life Sciences Inc.

Yulo said it is vital for the industry to support mass vaccination so that “we can protect our stakeholders and industries heavy in sugar use can also go back to normalcy.”

Tourism, restaurants, schools that are heavily affected by the pandemic are among our biggest consumers and the soonest we can go back to normalcy through mass vaccination, the better it is for the industry and for our economy, he added.

Yulo underscored the recent statement made by US COVID-19 adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci who said that “any vaccine is better than no vaccine,” adding that “we have to take a lead in our industry to impress that on our stakeholders.”

The SRA officials along with millers, sugar federations, planters and local governments in sugar producing areas are in talks now with Covovax distributors on how they can directly get slots from the 30 million doses initially reserved for by the Philippine government.

Covovax is set to produce 1.2 billion doses through the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

Vaccine distributors however are looking at the third quarter of 2021 for their mass rollout but they are hoping that by June or July, they will be able to distribute in the country.

Covovax vaccine has gone through clinical trials and their studies show that their vaccine has an efficacy rate of 95.6 percent against the original COVID-19 virus, an 85.6 percent efficacy against the UK variant and 60.1 percent against the South African variant, the highest among current vaccines against the two variants.

Yulo said what they find interesting with this vaccine is the fact that it has included in their trials the special group of immunocompromised group and the older population from 65-84 years old.

“It is also reasonably priced with an indicative price plus estimated logistical costs to Bacolod at P1,400 for two doses,” Yulo said, adding that they are also looking at replicating theBayanihan Testing effort of the private sector helping the public.

“We are now in exploratory talks with makers of Covovax and our next step is to reach out to sugar federations all over the country as well as the local government units to speed up this process so we can help jumpstart the economy which will also be good for the industry,” he said.

Tatak Kalamay which has a membership in almost all sugar producing areas will be mobilized in the vaccination campaign, Yulo added.

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