Philippines risks losing COVID-19 shots if prices revealed: official

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 01:59 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2021 02:09 PM

Philippines risks losing COVID-19 shots if prices revealed: official 1
A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is pictured at Gleneagles hospital's vaccination exercise for health care workers, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore, Jan. 19, 2021. Edgar Su, Reuters

MANILA — The Philippines risks losing COVID-19 vaccines from various brands if authorities disclose their prices to the public, an official leading the inoculation drive said, after lawmakers sought to know how much the country would pay for each jab.

Authorities signed a confidentiality agreement that covers the prices of COVID-19 vaccines with all pharmaceutical groups that the government is negotiating with, said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

"Maaari pong mawala sa atin ang 148 million doses ng nine-negotiate po natin sa vaccine companies kapag lumabag po tayo sa ating kasunduan," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(We can lose the 148 million doses that we are negotiating with vaccine companies if we violate the agreement.)

The government "will always try to negotiate for vaccines that are safe, effective and cost-efficient," said Galvez, who is also the Chief Implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

"Wala pong korapsyon," said the former military general.

(There is no corruption.)

"Hindi po tayo papasok, ang pamahalaan, sa kahit anong negosasyon o pipirma sa isang kontrata kung tayo ay madedehado," he added.

(We, the government, will not enter any negotiation or sign a contract if we will be at a disadvantage.)

The government aims to begin immunization next month, hoping to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of the population, this year.

The Philippines has firmed up supply deals with China's Sinovac, US-based Pfizer, Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Russia's Gamaleya Institute, Galvez earlier said.

The Senate has launched an inquiry into vaccine transactions over questions about pricing transparency and efficacy.

"I'm telling now General Galvez to proceed with his game plan, with or without the investigation," President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised speech on Monday.

— With a report from Reuters

Video courtesy of PTV