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Covid-19 vaccine deals may be jeopardized if prices are publicized, vaccine czar warns

/ 09:35 AM January 18, 2021
Cainta Mayor backs out of Chinese vaccine talks as constituents reject it

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — Revealing the price of China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to be procured by the Philippines would have compromised the country’s deals with other vaccine manufacturers, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.

Galvez said he could not disclose how much the Philippines will be paying for Sinovac’s vaccine during the Senate hearing on the national vaccination plan because it would likely prompt other manufacturers to withdraw from their respective deals with the Philippine government.

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During the two hearings the Senate conducted on the government’s vaccination plan last week, senators questioned the government’s seeming preference for Sinovac’s vaccine and pressed officials to disclose how much the Philippines will really be paying for its supply.

“Di po kasi namin pwedeng i-reveal yung prices kasi yun po ang kabilin-bilinan ni [Chinese] ambassador kasi magtatampo po yung ibang countries sa kanila at saka masisira po ang pangalan ng China sa ibang countries,” Galvez said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

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(We can’t reveal the price because it’s what the Chinese ambassador requested since other countries may feel bad and China’s name could be tainted.)

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Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr answers queries from senators during the continuation of the Senate Committee of the Whole hybrid hearing on the national government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB)

“Ayoko pong magsalita sa Senado dahil mako-compromise po yung 148 million na dosage natin pagka nagsalita po ako ng price doon. All of our manufacturers na nakausap [natin], they will withdraw,” he added.

(I did not want to disclose prices in the Senate because it would compromise the 148 million dosages we are trying to procure if I reveal prices during the hearing. All of our manufacturers that we are able to talk to, they will withdraw.)

He said that the government is bound by a non-disclosure agreement and violating this would give off an image to other manufacturers that the government is “unreliable.”

“Importante po kasi yung tinatawag nating CDA (confidential disclosure agreement), hindi po pwedeng i-reveal po yung trade secrets, especially yung price kasi po pwede pong mag-withdraw immediately ang ano po natin at hindi na po sila magtitiwala satin,” he said.

(The CDA is important, we cannot reveal trade secrets, especially the price because manufacturers can immediately withdraw from the deals and would no longer trust us.)

Galvez said a company “has the right to withdraw from the contract” if the country negotiating with them violated the non-disclosure agreement.

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“Tatlo yung pinaka-critical information, yung volumes, yung exact time nung delivery at saka yung price. Ang pinaka critical is yung price,” he said.

(There are three critical pieces of information, the volumes, the exact time of delivery and the price, the most critical is the price.)

“Once na na-reveal po yung price, talagang the company has the right to withdraw from the contract, because once na nag-reveal, nag-violate ng non-disclosure, meaning the state they are negotiating is …unreliable,” he added.

(Once we reveal the price, the company really has the right to withdraw from the contract, because once the price is revealed, the non-disclosure is violated, meaning the state they are negotiating with is unreliable.)

Earlier, Malacañang assured that Sinovac’s jab is not the most expensive vaccine the Philippines would be procuring since the country was given a “BFF” rate.

Over the weekend, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque disclosed that Sinovac vaccine to be sold to the Philippines will only cost around P650 per dose.

Department of Health data earlier shared by the office of Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, showed that COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac cost P3,629 for two doses.

But Galvez has repeatedly said that Sinovac is offering a cheaper price than US pharmaceutical firms.

The Philippine government has already secured 25 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccine, 50,000 of which will arrive by February.

The Philippines also earlier signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses of the Covovax COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available by the third quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, 30 million doses of vaccine from British drugmaker AstraZeneca, and 25 million doses of Russia’s  Sputnik V vaccine are set to be acquired by the government.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19 Vaccine, Nation, News, Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., Senate hearing, Sinovac
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