Cash for COVID cure: Senate wants to know prices of procured COVID-19 vaccines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 11:44 AM

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MANILA - The Senate will ask government to disclose the prices of the vaccines it has so far purchased or secured, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.

Senators find it "worrisome" that government has ordered 25 million doses of vaccine from China's Sinovac which was found to have a 50.4 percent efficacy rate in a recent Brazil study, Zubiri said.

Government cannot cite its non-disclosure agreement with drugmakers in refusing to disclose the price of the procured vaccines, according to the senator.

"Ang importante dito transparency. That is the key kasi di naman pwede natin sabihin 'Wag kayo mag-alala, kami na bahala dito, kami ang may alam ng presyo pero wag kayo mag-alala. 'Di tayo dehado sa presyo,'" he told ANC's Headstart.

(What's important here is transparency, that is the key. Because they cannot say, 'Don't worry, leave it to us, we know the price but don't worry we're not at a disadvantage.)

"In the next hearing tomorrow, we're either going into executive session so they don’t violate their non-disclosure agreement, we will ask them to disclose the prices of their purchase of the vaccines for transparency at least as far as COA (Commission on Audit) is concerned."

Sinovac is among the priciest COVID-19 vaccines in the market, Zubiri added.

"I don't know why we’re insisting on a product that has not finished its phase 3 trials... unlike Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya and Moderna," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday supported the decision of inoculation czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., to order Sinovac's vaccine, saying it was just as good as those made by other manufacturers.

"Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese, hindi sila nagkulang sa utak. Bright itong mga Intsik and they would not venture kung hindi sapat, if it is not safe, sure and secure... That is the guarantee," he said.

(The Chinese did not lack in anything. They're bright and they would not venture if it's not enough, if it is not safe, sure and secure.)