Gov’t purchase of vaccines not based on ‘political, financial interests,’ Galvez assures
MANILA, Philippines — The government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines from different companies is not based on political and financial interests.
The country’s vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., made the assurance during a Senate hearing on the government’s national inoculation plan on Friday.
“Rest assured that the procurement of the vaccine is not based on any political interest and financial interest,” Galvez told senators.
“In fact, the procurement of the vaccine portfolio was based on the recommendation of the vaccine expert panel,” he added.
The “vaccine portfolio” Galvez was referring to is the seven Covid-19 vaccine brands the government is currently negotiating with for vaccine supplies, namely Novavax, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson of the United States, United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca, China’s Sinovac Biotech and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.
So far, Pfizer is the only firm that obtained an emergency use authorization (EUA) while the applications of Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Gamaleya are still being reviewed.
Aside from an EUA from local regulators, these vaccines would first have to secure approval from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) before government funds can actually be released for their procurement, officials said during the hearing.
“We are doing it, during our deliberations for the vaccine, before we will procure it…we have to meet the HTAC. We will meet so that the recommendation of the [vaccine expert panel] will be deliberated with the HTAC,” Galvez said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto underscored the importance of the assurance coming from Galvez since the government’s choice of vaccines “is being politicized.”
“People are thinking na pinipilit yung China vaccine dahil 50 percent yung [efficacy] rate niya, pero pag sinabi ng HTAC na okay ‘yan, palagay ko maniniwala yung taumbayan basta free from political interference ‘yan, because they are our medical experts, our scientists,” Recto said.
(People are thinking that the China vaccine is being preferred when it was reported to have only 50 percent efficacy rate, but if the HTAC green lights it, the public would trust it so long as it’s free from political interference because they are our medical experts.)
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