Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has finally revealed around how much the Philippines will spend per dose of the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.
He said Sinovac’s CoronaVac is priced near ₱650 per dose or ₱1300 for the complete two doses. He claimed the information sent by the Department of Health to the Senate Committee on Finance that it costs ₱3,629 for two required doses was mere “fake news.”
“Ang ating presyo, bagama’t hindi pa po puwedeng i-anunsiyo kung ano talaga ang presyo ng Sinovac ay hindi po nagkakalayo o hindi nalayo doon sa presyo ng Indonesia nasa bandang ₱650 kada po turok,” he said in a DZBB radio interview on Sunday.
[Translation: Although I cannot announce the exact price of Sinovac, I can say it’s close to the price in Indonesia, which is at ₱650 per shot.]
Officials previously refused to divulge the price despite the clamor of lawmakers and the public due to its non-disclosure agreement with the Chinese government. But Roque and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines is being charged at “BFF price” since the Philippines is directly dealing with Chinese government officials, including Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested there may be corruption in the vaccine procurement due to sharp differences in the prices of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines and in other nations.
This comes after a recent news article on Bangkok Post said that one dose of CoronaVac only costs $5 or roughly P240. The report published on January 16 cited figures from the World Health Organization and drug manufacturers. Jakarta Post, meanwhile, reported that one dose of Sinovac in Indonesia is priced at $13.57 or roughly ₱670, attributed to Sinovac Biotech’s email to state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma.
“The difference in prices of Sinovac vaccine at US$5, US$14 and US$38 reminds me of an old story about how corruption is committed in three Southeast Asian countries — UNDER the table, ON the table, and INCLUDING the table,” Lacson tweeted.
House Committee on Health Chairperson Angelina Tan said they will continue to press government officials on the process of vaccine procurement during the hearing set on Monday. She noted the “inconsistencies” of Galvez during the two hearings conducted by the Senate.
“There are inconsistencies. We want to know how they negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry or the maker of the vaccine. We wanted the emergency use authorization first or the review of the clinical data,” she told CNN Philippines on Monday.
The Philippines recently closed the deal to buy 25 million doses from Sinovac. The first batch, 50,000 doses, is set to arrive on February 20. China is set to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, but Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi did not specify which brand.
Sinovac’s application for emergency use in the Philippines has not yet been reviewed pending its submission of the crucial phase 3 clinical trial results.