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

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com

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.

CARLITO GALVEZ JR

COVID-19 VACCINES

HARRY ROQUE

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

RODRIGO DUTERTE

SINOVAC

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

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)

January 4, 2022 - 9:06am

Government must increase vaccination capacity across the Philippines in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant of the corona virus, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

She says local government units and the private sector can work together to put up more vaccination centers and deploy more vaccination teams to get more people inoculated against COVID-19.

"The active COVID cases have nearly doubled in three days. The positivity rate is almost four times the ceiling set by the World Health Organization. Huwag na nating hintayin na sobrang lumala pa ang sitwasyon bago tayo gumawa ng paraan para mapabilis ang ating pagbabakuna."

December 23, 2021 - 11:44am

FDA chief Eric Domingo says that its agency has given emergency approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

November 11, 2021 - 7:30am

The United States immunized around 900,000 children aged five-to-11 against Covid in the first week the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for them, a White House official says Wednesday.

Roughly 700,000 more have made appointments at pharmacies, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients tells reporters.

"The program is just getting up to full strength," he says, adding most of the shots were given in the last couple of days alone. — AFP

November 8, 2021 - 7:56pm

The Philippines has received 2.8 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia.

The shipment arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday night and was met by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

November 7, 2021 - 11:57am

A Department of the Interior and Local Government proposal to require Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries to get vaccinated before cash transfers to them can be released will not help the poor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

"Walang kundisyon sa 4Ps law na kailangang COVID-19 vaccinated ang recipients kaya dapat igalang at irespeto ng ating mga opisyal ang desisyon ng sinuman ukol sa pagbabakuna," she says. 

(The 4Ps Law does not include the condition that recipients must be vaccinated against COVID-19 so the government must respect people's decision to get vaccinated or not)

She says it would be better for government agencues like the social welfare and health departments to encourage 4Ps beneficiaries to get vaccinated but not as a condition to receive cash aid.

Hontiveros says encouragement and explanations have helped address vaccine hesitancy in Metro Manila.

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