MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said his administration cannot divulge the details of the agreement it has with China's Sinovac Biotech for the procurement of its COVID-19 vaccines.
"Every negotiation, ibang agreement na naman 'yan. Does not involve money, but one thing is certain, you cannot divulge the contract price agreed upon," Duterte said during his weekly public address.
He also criticized senators who questioned the government's move to order Sinovac's vaccine despite its allegedly higher price and questionable efficacy.
"Nagka-canvass lang 'yan. Ang akala yata nitong mga, for a lack of a better word, ayoko na lang magsalita. Akala yata nila, 'yung kontrata sa Sinovac, kontrata sa Pfizer, kunyari. Sa Pfizer, gusto ninyong Pfizer, kayong mga senador. In Norway, 25 persons died after receiving Pfizer vaccination. Gusto ninyo, mag-order kami para sa inyo," Duterte said.
(They are just canvassing prices. These people, they think the contract with Sinovac, the contract with Pfizer, for example...They want to buy vaccines from Pfizer, these senators. In Norway, 25 persons died after receiving Pfizer vaccination. You want use to order for you.)
The Department of Health has said there won’t be any changes on the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for now while Philippine authorities await a report from the company on the death of elderly people in Norway.
The country's Food and Drug Administration granted EUA to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine last week, the first out of four applications it has received so far. The three other applicants are AstraZeneca, Gamaleya Institute of Russia and Sinovac from China.
Duterte said he already talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the procurement of China-made vaccines even before they finished production.
"Long before pumutok ito, tumawag na ako kay President Xi Jinping. Tapos sabi ko, wala kaming resources, we do not know how to make it, please don't forget the Philippines," he said.
(Long before this happened, I already called President Xi Jinping. I told hime we do not have the resources, we do not know how to make it, please don't forget the Philippines.)
He also reiterated that he stands by the government's decision to order from Sinovac.
"The pricing and the paper will not be final until it is reviewed by the Secretary of Finance, kasi siya ang magbayad, pati ako," Duterte said.
(The pricing and the paper will not be final until it is reviewed by the Secretary of Finance, because we are the ones who are going to pay.)
The coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac only showed a "general efficacy" of 50.4 percent in a late-stage trial in Brazil, the company's local partners said last week.
Piecemeal disclosure from global studies of the vaccine, called CoronaVac, have added to concerns that immunizations developed by Chinese producers are not subject to the same public scrutiny as US and European alternatives.
Malacañang earlier said the government will disclose the vaccine's price after settling the payment.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said in a radio interview on Sunday that it may be similar to the rate in Indonesia, which is around P650 per dose.
In December, Sen. Sonny Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, presented an estimated price of the different COVID-19 vaccines, including Sinovac's which is placed at P3,629.50 for 2 doses.
The chart shows that the Sinovac vaccine is the second most expensive, after Moderna's product, which is estimated to cost between P3,904.00 to P4,504.00.
Pfizer's ranks third, at P2,379.00, followed by Gamaleya's P1,220.00, COVAX facility's P854.00, Astrazeneca's P610.00, and Novavax' P366.00.