Cainta ends talks with Chinese vaccine supplier after uproar from residents
A Sinovac Biotech LTD vaccine candidate for COVID-19 coronavirus is on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on September 6, 2020.
AFP/Noel Celis

Cainta ends talks with Chinese vaccine supplier after uproar from residents

(Philstar.com) - January 16, 2021 - 1:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Cainta is ending negotiations with a Chinese vaccine supplier, its mayor said Friday, after residents of the Rizal town aired on social media their opposition toward getting coronavirus shots from Beijing.

“There were so many comments on the thread that they don’t want a vaccine from China,” Cainta Mayor Johnielle Keith “Kit” Nieto said in Filipino on his Facebook account. “Then let’s not buy it.”

Sabi ko nung makatlo, may confidentiality agreement na akong pinirmahan with AstraZeneca. Tas nabanggit ko na mag nego...

Posted by Johnielle Keith Pasion Nieto on Thursday, January 14, 2021

He said he has directed the town’s COVID-19 vaccine documentation team to end talks with the Chinese vaccine supplier and to secure other vaccine sources.

Nieto said the town is only engaging with talks with other vaccine manufacturers to ensure that every Cainta resident gets the shots.

He announced Wednesday that the town, which initially allocated P150 million for coronavirus shots, signed a confidentiality agreement with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for the possible supply of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University.

What’s up with Chinese vaccines?

Nieto did not mention which Chinese vaccine manufacturer his town was dealing with, but the two leading pharmaceutical firms in Beijing who are developing coronavirus vaccines are Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd.

The vaccine which is currently drawing controversy is Sinovac’s CoronaVac, which has varying efficacy rates ranging from just 50% to up to over 90% in different trials around the world and has not yet published results of its Phase 3 trials in a peer-reviewed journal.

EXPLAINER: What’s behind varying efficacy data for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine?

Results from these late-stage trials are also being awaited by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration so it can start evaluating whether to grant CoronaVac emergency use authorization, which would allow it to be used in the government’s coronavirus vaccination program.

Lawmakers are also questioning the government’s decision to purchase 25 million doses of CoronaVac, when it is supposedly more expensive than other jabs. 

Officials of the Duterte administration, including vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., have said that the vaccine prices being reported by the media are inaccurate, while refusing to disclose the prices of the vaccines on the government’s portfolio, claiming they are bound by non-disclosure agreements.

Galvez also told a Senate inquiry that the government can still call off the purchase of the 25 million CoronaVac doses. — Xave Gregorio

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