Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine not yet a done deal? 'Wrong,' says Palace

Jamaine Punzalan and Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2021 03:17 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2021 09:40 PM

Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine not yet a done deal? 'Wrong,' says Palace 1
A nurse prepares a dose of the Sinovac's CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine at the Sancaktepe Sehit Dr. Ilhan Varank Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey Jan. 14, 2021. Murad Sezer, Reuters

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines has a "binding contract" with China for its COVID-19 vaccine, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Monday, refuting 2 officials' statement that supplies from Chinese vaccine developers were not yet a done deal.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Joven last week told senators that while the term sheet for Sinovac's vaccine states that the Chinese firm sells doses to the Philippines, it does not mean that the latter is already committed to buying them. When asked if the agreement was already a "done deal", vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said, no. 

"Mali po iyan," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

(That is wrong.)
The term sheet states that the purchase will push through if Sinovac's vaccine gets approval from the Philippine drug regulator, Roque told reporters in an online briefing. 

"But that is already a binding obligation," said Roque, a lawyer. 

Galvez earlier said the Philippines would give emergency use authorization to Sinovac next month, even as the Food and Drug Administration said it is still waiting for additional documents from the firm before the evaluation of its application could proceed.

Sinovac vaccine's first 50,000 doses for the Philippines will arrive in February, said Roque.

The government will disclose the vaccine's price after settling the payment, he said. Although, on Sunday, he mentioned in a radio interview 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.

"Ang aking i-a-assure po sa inyo 'no, fake news po iyong kumakalat na 3,600 per dose daw iyong singil ng China," Roque said on his Sunday radio interview.

(I assure you, the supposed P3,600 price per dose that China is charging is fake news.)

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in a visit to Manila announced Saturday that Beijing will donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to help the Philippines address the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s promised donation will not affect the Philippine government’s procurement of 25 million doses of vaccines from Sinovac, said Roque.

“Well, nagpapasalamat po tayo. Pero, iyong 25 million, hindi po sapat iyan para sa ating populasyon. Kaya nga po, mayroon tayong portfolio," said Roque.

(We are thankful for that. But 25 million is not enough for our population. And that's why we have a portfolio of vaccine candidates.)

"Tuloy pa rin po iyong desisyon natin na bumili ng iba pang mga bakuna sa iba’t-ibang kumpanya na mayroon po silang made-deliver sa lalong mabilis na panahon,” he added. 

(Our decision to buy other vaccines from various firms that can deliver as soon as possible will push through.)

The Palace spokesman denied that the country’s acceptance of the Chinese donation would give Sinovac an advantage over other brands in its application for emergency use authorization in the country.

“Ulitin ko po: safety, efficacy as reviewed by the Expert Panel Group and the FDA - yan po ang magdi-determine kung ano po iyong gagamitin natin sa bayan natin,” he said.

(I will repeat: safety, efficacy as reviewed by the Expert Panel Group and the Food and Drug Administration, will determine what our country will use.)