Sinovac 'provided very good pricing to the Philippines,' exec says
A Brazilian health worker prepares a dose of the CoronaVac Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against COVID-19 coronavirus at Clinicas hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil on January 17, 2021.
AFP/Nelson Almeida

Sinovac 'provided very good pricing to the Philippines,' exec says

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 18, 2021 - 12:25pm

MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech is priced reasonably and is not among the most expensive jabs out there, its general manager said as varying prices of the Chinese drugmaker’s vaccine raise alarm among Filipinos.

The Philippines has secured 25 million doses of CoronaVac, the vaccine developed by Sinovac, with the initial 50,000 doses expected to arrive in February. But some sectors have questioned the government’s decision to purchase vaccines from the Chinese pharmaceutical firm, saying they are more costly and less effective compared to those developed by other companies.

In an interview on CNN Philippines Monday, Sinovac Biotech General Manager Helen Yang refused to disclose the cost of the vaccine offered to the government, citing confidentiality agreements. But she said it is not among the most expensive shots.

“In terms of pricing, definitely we’re not on the highest expensive ones because I think it is the mission of Sinovac to provide the vaccine at an affordable price and actually a lot lower than what has been reported from the Philippines,” Yang said.

“But I would be assuring you that this is a very good pricing that we provided to the Philippines,” she said, adding the cost is “reasonable.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed Sinovac’s vaccine is priced near P650 per dose.

“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 dzBB Sunday.

‘Senate inquiry didn’t lead to lower vaccine price’

In a statement Sunday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, citing a Bangkok Post report, said that Sinovac’s vaccine may cost as little as $5 (P240) per dose but may be sold as much as $38 (P1,847.25) in the Philippines.

Carlito Galvez Jr., who leads the government’s vaccine procurement efforts, said that reports that Sinovac shots are priced at $36 or $76.5 were “very erroneous.”

Lacson also said that if it is true that the government is now dropping the cost of Sinovac vaccine from P1,847.25 per dose to only 650, then “the Senate has probably done our share to save our people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program.”

He also said social media users also deserve to “pat themselves on the back.”

But Galvez said the term sheet had already been inked even before the Senate hearing began last week.

"They're claiming the accomplishment but that's not the case. Even if there was no Senate hearing, that would have been the price," Galvez said in Filipino in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, noting that CoronaVac’s price is not more than P700 per dose.

The vaccine czar said that revealing the price of Sinovac’s vaccine that will be procured by the government will compromise the country’s negotiations with vaccine makers.

In the Senate inquiry, Galvez said the agreement of the government to purchase Sinovac's jabs is not yet a done deal. The Palace on Monday disputed this statement, saying the contract has already been finalized.

“We have entered into a term sheet with the Philippine government and if it is approved, we should discuss further on the definitive agreement. That is where we are,” Sinovac's Yang said.

She explained that a term sheet is a “non-binding understanding” between sellers and buyers about the imporant terms on an agreement.

EUA application

Last week, Sinovac applied with the country's Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine but the regulator said the firm failed to submit the crucial Phase 3 clinical trial results. 

“We're working days and nights to compile all of the required documents and make the submission along with the local local partners,” Yang said. 

“We're actively discussing and reporting to FDA whenever thay have any questions,” she added. 

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 way below those of rival shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-Astrazeneca.

Preliminary testing in Turkey showed 91.25% efficacy for Sinovac's shots, while a trial in Indonesia showed an efficacy of 65.3%. — with reports from The STAR/Alexis Romero and Agence France-Presse

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