DOH clarifies Duterte comment: PH to buy cheapest among effective COVID-19 vaccines

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 12:35 PM | Updated as of Sep 09 2020 12:38 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte was correct in saying that the Philippines would be getting the least expensive COVID-19 vaccine, but clarified that these would be chosen only among those proven to be effective by international institutions.

“Tama naman si Presidente. Kung 'yan 'yung pinaka-mura at safe siya, efficacious, 'yan 'yung bibilhin ng gobyerno. Because that’s the objective pa rin naman po pag nagpo-procure ang gobyerno,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. 

(The President is correct. If that is the cheapest and it is safe, efficacious, then that’s what the government will buy. Because that’s the objective when government procures.)

In getting vaccines, the health department chooses those proven to be safe and effective. The drug should also pass the regulation and scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration and other groups such as the Health Technology Assessment Council, she said.

“Ang isa pa na tinitignan natin - and I think this is very important - dapat 'yung bakuna WHO pre-qualified,” Vergeire said.

(Another thing we look at — and I think this is very important — the vaccine should be WHO pre-qualified.)

She said vaccines that are pre-qualified by the World Health Organization pass through a tedious approval process. She said it is another safeguard that the vaccine is cleared by international and reputable institutions.

Currently, she said, the Philippines is at the phase of “trying to map out and scope all of these manufacturers and developers” approaching the government.

“Tayo ang gusto natin ang pinaka-best for our population. That’s why we are trying to negotiate with all of our manufacturers. Mayroon ngang kinakausap tayo na nasa pre-clinical phase pa lang, nakikipag-usap pa rin tayo,” Vergeire said.

(What we want is the best for our population. That’s why we are trying to negotiate with all of the manufacturers. We are even talking to those in pre-clinical phase.)

Vergeire said the Philippines already signed and transmitted the Confidential Disclosure Agreement for two Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our Department of Science and Technology has already transmitted a copy of an electronically signed confidentiality disclosure agreement to Sinovac. A copy of the original signed CDA will be submitted to Sinovac through the Chinese Embassy in Manila,” she said.

The same has been done for the agreement with Sinopharm through the DOST.

Sinovac and Sinopharm are among the COVID-19 vaccine frontrunners. Both are based in China.

Vergeire said they would know more about the negotiations with the vaccine developed by the CSL and the University of Queensland.