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: March 6, 2021 - 12:36pm

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)

March 6, 2021 - 12:36pm

At least 38,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX facility are arriving on Sunday, the Department of Health says.

March 4, 2021 - 7:23pm

The plane carrying AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility has landed at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Photo: PCOO-Office of Global Media and Public Affairs

March 4, 2021 - 10:13am

At least 8,559 persons have received the first dose of Sinovac vaccine as of March 3, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

These were administered in 32 sites in Metro Manila.

The Cabinet official adds that 189,600 of the 600,000 donated Sinovac vaccines ahve already been delivered.

March 3, 2021 - 3:18pm

Contradicting Malacanang, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. says he cannot confirm the arrival of initial shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccines from the Covax facility.

"I cannot confirm yet. Dalawang beses na kaming nakuryente diyan. Mabuti i-confirm 'pag may plane nang lumipad from Belgium," Galvez was quoted, as reported by ABS-CBN News.

March 3, 2021 - 2:30pm

An initial shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility are expected to arrive on Thrusday, March 4, the Palace says.

The shipment will have 487,200 and will arrive around 7:30 p.m., the Palace also says. This is down from the 527,600 doses earlier announced to arrive on March 1, and that did not, in fact, arrive.

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