MANILA — The COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech is more affordable than some of its competitors, an official leading the immunization effort said on Wednesday, amid criticism over government's supposed preference for the drug said to have less efficacy than other formulations.
"Kaya po namin napili ang Sinovac, dahil po medyo mura po ito," said Carlito Galvez Jr, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force COVID-19.
(We chose Sinovac because it's slightly more affordable.)
Galvez, who is also the country's inoculation czar, did not say Sinovac's cost per dose.
But data released by Senate finance committee chair Sen. Sonny Angara earlier showed that Sinovac is the second most expensive vaccine now available, at P3,629 for 2 doses.
In comparison, Pfizer's vaccine, now used in the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries, cost P2,379 for 2 doses; AstraZeneca's at P610 for 2 doses; Moderna's at a higher P3,904 to P4,504, also for 2 doses; while Gamaleya's is at P1,220 for 2 doses.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan called on the health department to cancel the purchase of the Sinovac jabs, saying it is 6 times as expensive than its counterpart from UK drug group AstraZeneca, which reportedly has a higher efficacy rate.
COVAX facility, a global initiative that ensures poor countries will get access to the vaccines, has brought down the market price of Sinovac by 300 percent, Galvez said in a public briefing.
"Mali po ang information ng ating mahal na senator kasi po ‘yung Sinovac, ka-presyo niya po ang Novovax, ka-presyo niya po ang Gamaleya, ka-presyo niya po ang ibang vaccines. ‘Yung sinasabi natin na five times, mali po iyon," Galvez said.
(The information of our beloved senator is wrong because Sinovac costs the sam as Novavax, Gamaleya, other vaccines. )
"Hindi ko lang po mai-reveal ang lahat ng mga cost ng different vaccine, nasa middle po ang Sinovac. Mas mura po siya sa Moderna, mas mura po siya sa ibang vaccines ng US," he added.
(I just can't reveal the cost of the vaccines, but Sinovac is in the middle. It is cheaper than Moderna, other vaccines from the US.)
The Philippines has secured 25 million jabs of the Sinovac vaccine, the first 50,000 doses of which will arrive in the country in February, Malacañang had said.