‘An industry practice,’ Duterte says in defense of undisclosed vaccine price
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte defended in his weekly taped briefing on Monday the reluctance of government officials to disclose the price offered by China’s Sinovac BioTech for its COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is not a mystery. It’s the practice in the industry that the price is hushed up at first,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino, using the phrase “bulung-bulungan muna.”
The government has already secured 25 million doses of CoronaVac, the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac. But the exact price has not been disclosed yet, with officials citing the confidential disclosure agreement (CDA) that it signed with the Chinese firm.
Duterte stressed that the government was bound to keep the rate confidential. Otherwise, he said other countries that bought the vaccine might feel that the price they paid was unfair — “malulugi iyong ibang countries.”
“The prices are not the same. [But] they want the prices to be close to each other,” the president said.
He even cited a newspaper report on Malaysia’s supposed failure to follow the CDA which put the vaccine deal in peril.
According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., the vaccine cost is between P650 to P700 per dose.
Lawmakers have questioned the cost and efficacy of CoronaVac, with both houses of Congress launching probes into the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
But Duterte reminded Galvez to stick to his “gameplan.”
“Nevermind about the investigations because it will delay us more,” Duterte told the former military chief.
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