MANILA — The Philippines got COVID-19 vaccines "at cost" of their development, an official leading the country's inoculation drive said on Thursday, adding that claims of overpricing in the deals were "hurtful."
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that activist Etta Rosales, who urged him to resign over alleged overpricing of the COVID-19 shots, was not familiar with the negotiations he was leading.
"Dapat, hindi muna siya mag-judge. Hindi niya alam na lahat ng vaccine na nabili natin ay talaga pong binigay at cost," he said in a public briefing.
(She should't judge hastily. She does not know that all the vaccines we bought were given at cost.)
"Ang guidance po ng WHO sa mga manufacturer ay wala pong tinatawag na commercialization, no profit, magkaroon po ng equitable access. Iyon po ay kasunduan ng lahat ng manufacturers, that they will provide access to poor countries like us," he added.
(The guidance of the World Health Organization to manufacturers is there should be no commercialization, no profit. That is the agreement among all manufacturers.)
Galvez also told Rosales, "Ginagalang ko po ang opinyon n'yo. Pero minsan, nakakasakit po ng damdamin dahil kasi hindi n'yo po alam, wala po kayong alam sa negosasyon na ginagawa po namin."
"Napakahirap po ng negosasyon na ginawa namin. Talagang ang ginagawa po namin, binabagsak namin ang presyo."
(I respect your opinion. But sometimes it is hurtful because you do not know, you know nothing about out negotiation. The negotiation is very difficult. We are pulling down the price.)
A confidentiality agreement bars authorities from disclosing vaccine prices for now, Galvez earlier said.
The government aims to begin immunization next month, hoping to inoculate 70 million people, or two-thirds of its population, this year. It hopes to secure supply deals for 148 million doses this January.
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 said.
The country has logged a total of 507,717 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Thursday, of which, 30,126 are active cases. The death toll stood at 10,116, and total recoveries, at 467,475.