Philippines Nears Moderna Deal as Covid Infections Rise Outside Manila

The Philippines is nearing a deal with Moderna Inc. for as much as 20 million vaccine doses as it monitors a post-holiday spike in coronavirus cases outside Manila.

A supply deal with Moderna will likely be finished this month, Carlito Galvez, who leads the vaccination program, said in a televised briefing on Thursday. The nation is also expecting to receive fewer doses from the World Health Organization-backed Covax Facility, he said.

Infections outside the Manila capital region are rising. “People went back to the provinces during the holidays and had festivities, so that may have contributed to the increase,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at the same briefing.

The Philippines has the second-highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, with nearly 506,000 as of Jan. 20. Cities on the southern Mindanao island have topped the daily case count in the past days, although the capital region still has the highest total infections.

India-based Bharat Biotech International Ltd has applied for emergency use authorization in the Philippines for its coronavirus vaccine, ABS-CBN News reported, citing Food and Drug Administration head Eric Domingo.

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