Lacson smells ‘attempt to overprice’ PH purchase of Sinovac jabs by P16.8B
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson has hinted of a possible “attempt to overprice” by roughly P16.8 billion the Philippine government’s procurement of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.
In a privilege speech during Monday’s session, Lacson pointed out the differing information provided by concerned government agencies and officials as well as the discrepancy in the price of the same vaccine being purchased by other countries from the same company.
“I am not prepared to accuse anyone in particular of corruption. Rather, it defies logic to suspect at least an attempt to overprice the vaccine. Again, when there is an attempt at overpricing, isn’t it also logical to think na may kikita ng limpak-limpak na salapi (that someone will profit so much from this)?” Lacson said.
“Imagine this, marahil kung sakaling hindi natalakay sa pagdinig ng Senado ang kontrobersya ng Sinovac at assuming natuloy ang orihinal na presyo na P3,629 or $38 dollars kada dalawang bakuna o P1,814 equivalent to $19 dollars kada turok kontra $5 dollars sa Thailand, easily, the price difference of $14, for 25 million doses would fetch $350 million or P16.8 billion,” he also said.
(Imagine this, if the Senate was not able to tackle the controversy surrounding Sinovac and assuming that the price of P3,629 per two doses or $38 or P1,814 equivalent to 19 dollars per dose in comparison to the $5 dollars for Thailand, easily, the price difference of $14, for 25 million doses would fetch $350 million or P16.8 billion.)
Last week, the Senate conducted two hearings into the government’s Covid-19 inoculation plan and pressed officials to disclose the price Sinovac is offering to the Philippines for the vaccines as they cited data submitted by the Department of Health (DOH) to the Senate finance panel during budget debates late last year.
This DOH information showed the Sinovac vaccine’s estimated cost of P3,629 per two doses or around P1,8000 per dose.
Lacson has pointed out that this is higher than the price of what other countries like Thailand were able to get for the same COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac.
But over the weekend, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the price assured for the Philippines’ purchase of the Sinovac vaccine will be similar to its cost in other countries, which was around P650 per dose.
The government previously announced securing 25 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, and that some 50,000 doses of the total will be delivered in February.
Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. has also insisted that the Philippines was able to negotiate a lower price for Sinovac’s jab – lower than its market price of $26.5.
Galvez likewise disagreed with Lacson’s perception that the price of Sinovac’s vaccine was brought down following the Senate hearing.
“Masyado nangaangkin ng accomplishment ‘yung ano…kasi kahit na nung wala pa ‘yung Senate hearing, ‘yung price ay ganun na po talaga,” the vaccine czar said in an earlier interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
(That’s credit grabbing…because even before the Senate hearing, the lower price was already negotiated.)
In a separate statement, DOH said that what it had earlier submitted to the Senate finance panel last year were only “indicative market prices based on rates published by different manufacturers generated for the purpose of estimating the proposed budget for the vaccination program.”
“These are not, in any way, the negotiated prices that the government and the manufacturer agreed on,” it said.
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