Senators question vaccine deal with China’s Sinovac sans EUA application
MANILA, Philippines — Why secure a vaccine deal with a Chinese drugmaker that has yet to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) with local regulators?
This was the question posed by some senators on Monday following reports that the Philippines was able to secure 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac.
“Why did you conclude a contract of 25 million doses nung hindi pa naga-apply ng EUA with FDA (Food and Drug Administration)? ‘Yung Sinovac, you already concluded a contract,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III asked government officials during an inquiry into the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program.
(Why did you conclude a contract of 25 million doses when it has yet to apply for a EUA with the FDA.)
So far, only Pfizer and AstraZeneca have applied for a EUA with FDA.
National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chief and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., however, explained that the Philippines signed only a “term sheet” to be able to “lock-in” vaccine doses from the company.
“The term sheet is only used to lock in the logistics so that they can start. There is still a very rigorous supply agreement that will be tackled in order to determine the term of payments and also the terms of delivery,” he said.
“If we will not close the term sheet, the 25 million will be gone,” he added.
Still, Senator Panfilo Lacson questioned what he believes is the government’s preference towards Sinovac.
“They have not applied and yet you concluded a contract with Sinovac to deliver 25 million doses,” he said.
“They have not applied even for a EUA, why would you even negotiate with them? Eh ang dami namang nag-apply at saka forthcoming na ‘yung kanilang EUA, why did you not give priority to those brands na merong EUA? Or at least merong application? Why would you give preference to a brand that has not even applied for EUA?” Lacson added.
(They have not applied even for a EUA, why would you even negotiate with them? There other companies who are applying for a EUA, why did you not give priority to those brands with EUA? Or at least has an application? Why would you give preference to a brand that has not even applied for EUA?)
Galvez said they have already told Sinovac to apply for a EUA.
He further argued that the government “will be at the tail end of the supply chain” if it waits for a company to secure a EUA before it makes a deal with them.
“There is some sort of competition,” Galvez said.
Vaccines to arrive by February?
Earlier, Malacañang said 50,000 of the 25 million doses of the Sinovac vaccines are expected to arrive in the Philippines by February.
“Ide-deliver sa February 20 hindi pa sila naga-apply [ng EUA]. So nauna ang delivery bago mag-apply?” Lacson asked Galvez.
(They will deliver on February 20 but they haven’t applied yet for a EUA. So, the delivery will come first before their application?)
Senator Risa Hontiveros also joined her colleagues in raising doubts over the government’s vaccine deal with a company that has yet to apply for a EUA with local regulators.
“Kung EUA lang din naman ‘yung ating standard, dapat may equal application ng national government, hindi ‘yung merong hindi pa naga-apply sa EUA eh may naka-park na na kontrata,” she said.
(If the EUA is the standard, the national government should have equal application and not allow those who have not yet applied for one to already have a parked contract.)
Galvez, responding to the concerns of senators, said Sinovac will not deliver its vaccines in February if it fails to get a EUA by then.
“They will not deliver if the EUA is not approved. We have to make sure that we will have the EUA before February 20 or else the delivery will be delayed until the EUA will be approved,” he said.
“We will not allow the inoculation of our people without the authority of the FDA,” he added.
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