By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – Malacañang on Monday vowed to reveal the price of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. once the national government’s deal with the Chinese vaccine supplier is finalized.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this assurance insisting that Sinovac has accorded the “best price” to the Philippines as it did with fellow Southeast Asian country Indonesia.
Roque earlier said the national government bought the Sinovac vaccines for a price close to the PHP650 per dose offered to Indonesia but refused to give the actual price offered to the Philippines until the sale contract is finalized.
“Huwag naman po kayo mag-alala. Hindi po natin gagawin sikreto ang presyo pag natuloy na nga po yung bentahan. Bakit po? E babayaran na ‘yan e. Pag nabayaran na po ‘yan, obligado na na sabihin sa taong bayan kung magkano talaga yung ibinayad (Don’t worry. We won’t have to keep the price of vaccines a secret once the deal is finalized. Why? Because we’re paying for them already. Once they’re paid, we’re obligated to announce how much they cost),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Currently, the national government has only signed with China the “term sheet” or an agreement to sell and buy vaccines.
“Kaya nga lang po ngayon, ang napirmahan po ngayon, term sheet, isa rin po ‘yang kontrata to sell and to buy. Pero ang kondisyon is kinakailangan among others ma-approve ng FDA (At present, what we have signed is the term sheet, it’s also a contract so sell and to buy. But the condition is it must receive approval from the FDA),” he added.
Not to be compared to soap
Roque also took a swipe at comedian-host Vice Ganda following the latter’s criticism on being “choosy” in selecting Covid-19 vaccines.
The latter earlier said: “Sa sabong panlaba nga choosy tayo e, sa bakuna kaya (If we could be choosy about selecting laundry soap, how much more with vaccines)?”.
“Mali namang ikukumpara ang bakuna sa sabon na panlaba. Ang katunayan po, wala namang supply na ganun kadami. Nag-aagawan nga po tayo sa 18 percent na available na supply…Kung hindi pagtitiwalaan ang mga expert na tatlong batches pa ng experts ang magsasabing puwede natin gamitin ‘yan, sino ang ating pagkakatiwalaan? Siguro po, hindi mga komedyante (It’s wrong to compare vaccines to laundry soap. The fact is there’s not much vaccine supply. If we don’t trust our experts, three batches of experts, saying we can use the vaccine, who can we trust? Perhaps not comedians),” he said.
Roque emphasized that the national government is not favoring China-made vaccines but was relying on available supply in the market that is safe and effective.
“Hindi natin dapat tinitingnan kung saan ginagawa ang bakuna. Ang dapat tingnan natin, kung ito ay ligtas at kung ito po ay epektibo. At wala po tayong ituturok kung hindi po napatunayan na ligtas at epektibo (We should not check where the vaccine is being made. What we should check is whether these vaccines are safe and effective. We won’t inoculate anyone with vaccines that are not safe and effective),” he said.
Roque said at least 80 percent of the global vaccine supply have been pre-ordered by vaccines’ countries of origin, 2 percent have been secured under the COVAX Facility, and only 18 percent are up for grabs for developing countries such as the Philippines.
Citing vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., Roque said the Philippines has secured 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccine with the first 50,000 doses expected to arrive in February.
He said the national government will also look at other vaccine suppliers to cover the entire Philippine population.
The Philippines is targeting to secure 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from at least seven companies this year. (PNA)