Palace: Sinovac vaccine price not far from P650 per dose offered to Indonesia
A health worker holds empty vials of the Sinovac vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at Meuraxa Hospital in Banda Aceh on January 15, 2021.

Palace: Sinovac vaccine price not far from P650 per dose offered to Indonesia

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 17, 2021 - 6:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Sunday denied that the vaccine developed by Sinovac costs P3,600 per dose as it stood by its decision to buy shots from the Chinese drug maker despite claims that the government is settling for a more expensive yet less effective COVID-19 jabs.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed the price of the Sinovac vaccines purchased by the government is not far from the P650 per dose offered to Indonesia. 

"What I can assure you is the claim that China is charging P3,600 per dose is fake news. While I cannot announce the price of Sinovac (vaccines), it's not far from the price given to Indonesia, which is about P650 per dose," Roque told radio station dzBB. 

The Philippines has secured 25 million doses of Sinovac vaccine, with the first 50,000 doses expected to arrive in February. Some sectors have questioned the government's decision to buy shots from the Chinese firm, saying they are less effective and more costly compared to those developed by western manufacturers like Pfizer and AstraZeneca. 

Sinovac's vaccine demonstrated an efficacy rate of 50.4% in late-stage trials in Brazil, barely meeting the minimum requirement set by the World Health Organization and lower than those manufactured by western firms. Malacañang, however, has vouched for the efficacy of the Chinese vaccine, saying it was found to be 91.25% effective in Turkey and Indonesia. 

Data released recently by Sen. Sonny Angara showed that the price of Sinovac vaccine is P3,629 for two doses, higher than those of Pfizer-BioNTech (P2,379), Gamaleya (P1,220), COVAX Facility (P854), AstraZeneca (P610) and Novavax (P366). Roque has disputed this, saying Sinovac is "third from the most expensive out of the six brands" and that the shots were sold at a special price because of the close relationship between the Philippines and China. Angara has said that the vaccine prices were provided by the health department to his office and to the Senate finance committee during budget deliberations last November. 

Roque said he could not announce how much the government is spending for the Sinovac vaccines because the prices vary and are dependent on who would buy the shots.  

"China is not like capitalist companies that are market dictated. China can change the prices...it depends on who will buy. That's the reason why China does not want it announced because others who are not their BFF (best friends forever) and who are paying higher prices may get angry," the Palace spokesman said. 

Roque shrugged off the criticisms of senators who are urging the administration to reconsider its decision to buy Sinovac vaccines. 

"What the president said was they can say what they want to say. In the end, it is the president that is ultimately responsible to the people. Fake news will come out, in the end, it will be implemented by the president because it is good for the people," Roque said. 

"He said the buck stops with him, he has full responsibility and he won't allow the people to be at risk because of vaccines. The president will ensure that everything that will be given to our countrymen will save lives and will not put our fellow Filipinos at risk," he added. 

Senators are reportedly planning to conduct another hearing on the government's vaccination program. 

Roque reiterates that the public won't be forced to receive vaccines but maintained that inoculation is important because the new COVID-19 variant is more infectious. 

"Why wait for the vaccine that will arrive at the end of the year? If the normal variant is infectious, the new one is more infectious. Why gamble on our health when a protection is already available?" he said. 

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