Refuting own officials, Palace says Sinovac purchase already a 'done deal'

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 18, 2021 - 3:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Palace on Monday said the purchase for 25 million doses of China's Sinovac is already final, remarks in contrast to what officials told a Senate hearing that the highly questioned procurement could still be scrapped.

The administration has continued to face questions on its seeming preference for the Chinese-made vaccine whose efficacy rate remains unclear to date, including its price.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. told a Senate probe last week that the country may still opt out of securing Sinovac's doses as members of the upper chamber pressed officials on the seeming bias for the jab.

But at a briefing Monday, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque, citing the Civil Code, said government already has a "binding obligation" after it signed a deal with the Chinese drugmaker.

"Kapag mayroon na pong tinatawag na 'meeting of the minds' pagdating doon sa consent, object and consideration...ay mayroon na tayong obligasyon," he said.

(When there is already what we call a 'meeting of the minds' when it comes to consent, object and consideration, we already have an obligation.)

The pronouncement all the more cements that, as it appears, there would be no backing down from the purchase despite a growing concern by the public that is shared too by lawmakers. 

Sinovac last week had sought approval from local regulators for emergency use but failed to turn in results of its crucial Phase 3 clinical trial.

In the same briefing, Roque sought to assure that the Sinovac would not cost more than P700, addressing another criticism that the Chinese vaccines may be more expensive than others yet being the most preferred.

It came after Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Sinovac costs roughly $5 in Indonesia or P240, but is being sold at $38 or P1,847.25 at home.

"Hindi po natin gagawing sikreto ang presyo pag natuloy na nga po ang bentahan," he said, as government continues to refuse disclosing Sinovac's price citing confidentiality agreement. "'Pag nabayaran na 'yan, obligado nang sabihin sa taumbayan kung magkano talaga ang binayad."

(We will not make the price a secret when the purchase really pushes through. We will be obliged to tell the public how much we paid if the procurement is done.)

President Rodrigo Duterte in his public address on January 13 backed the coronavirus vaccines developed by China, a nation he has pivoted the country to in his years in office, saying all jabs are the same despite varying efficacy rates.

The issue on government's bid for Sinovac is only one out of the many it is dealing with in its vaccination program with an aim of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos in 2021 alone, apart from concerns on storage and the eventual distribution.

By January 17, coronavirus infections in the Philippines breached the 500,000th mark nearly a year since its first confirmed case, along with deaths at over 9,800.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 17, 2021 - 5:29pm

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

June 17, 2021 - 5:29pm

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for private sector use arrives in the Philippines on Thursday.

At least 1.5 million does of Chinese-made Sinovac vaccines lands in Manila, 500,000 of which will be for the sole use by companies and private organizations for their inoculation efforts for employees and qualified personnel.

This is part of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry's tripartite agreement with IP Biotech, Inc. and the national government. — Photo release from FFCCCII

June 15, 2021 - 12:23pm

Japan is donating AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko announces on his Twitter account.

"[W]e'll make sure to deliver them at the soonest possible time so no one gets left behind during this pandemic," he also says.

June 11, 2021 - 12:13pm

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo says that as far as he knows all of the sitting justices of the Supreme Court have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

He says the court asked for justices to be classified as A4. Some of the justices are also already senior citizens.

June 10, 2021 - 8:58pm

More than 2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday night.

More than 200,000 doses will be distributed to Cebu and Davao while the remaining doses are for Metro Manila.

June 10, 2021 - 7:48am

Another 1 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine have arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Vaccination of economic frontliners, or workers in the A4 category, kicked off this month.

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