Senate to review vaccine purchases before granting more funds to gov't | Inquirer News

Senate to review vaccine purchases before granting more funds to gov’t

/ 07:46 PM June 07, 2021

sinovac vaccine arrival naia june 6, 2021

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III led the inspection of the Sinovac vaccines that arrived on Sunday.

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate must first review the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines before more funds can be authorized for the same, Senator Panfilo Lacson said after the budget chief mentioned a possible need for an additional P25 billion for purchase of jabs.

“[D]apat magkaroon ng oversight ang Senado tungkol sa vaccine procurement,” Lacson said in a message to reporters Monday when sought for comment on the recent statement from Department of Budget and Management (DBM) requesting additional funds.


Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado recently said the Department of Finance has estimated that the government might need an additional P2.5 billion for the country’s purchase of vaccines in anticipation of the possible expansion of the inoculation program to minors.


Lacson however believed that the P82.5 billion under the 2021 budget and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act allocated for the procurement of the vaccines are more than enough.

For instance, P25 billion in addition to the P82.5 billion can already purchase 83.7 million vaccine doses of Moderna’s jab, which Lacson noted is priced at P26.83 or P1,283 for each dose.

“Kung Sinovac naman, at alam na natin na 25 [million] doses ang in-order na ng gobyerno at P683/dose, mas maraming doses ang kayang bilihin — nasa 157.3 million doses. Parang sobra sobra ang pondo considering na ang business sector ay nag order na ng 17 [million doses na nagkakahalaga ng P22.8 [billion]. Idagdag pa natin ang mga donations galing sa COVAX facility ng [World Health Organization],” Lacson explained.

(If it’s Sinovac, what we know is that the government ordered 25 million doses at P683/dose, that amount can buy more doses – around 157.3 million doses. It seems that the funds would be more than excessive considering that the business sector ordered 17 million doses worth P22.8 billion. In addition, there’s also donations coming from the COVAX facility.)

The senator then pointed to his earlier suspicion of an alleged “attempt to overprice” the purchase of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Senate Committee on Finance received the report from DOH during the 2021 budget deliberations last October or November 2020 that the cost of Sinovac vaccines was the equivalent of P3,629 for 2 doses,” he noted.


In January 2021, 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 DOH to the Senate finance panel during budget debates late 2020.

Lacson had pointed out during the hearing that this was higher than the price of what other countries like Thailand were able to get for the same COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac.

“I showed a slide showing the prices of the same brand in Thailand and Indonesia. I even computed the difference of the DOH recommended price  and the Thailand price at a whopping P52.8 [billion] which if not checked MIGHT have been the attempted overprice,” he went on.

“Now, whether or not the P3,629 price as submitted by DOH to the Senate was intentional or honest mistake, hindi ko na alam ‘yon [I wouldn’t know that anymore],” he added.

Amid concerns raised on the price tag of Sinovac’s vaccine purchased by the government, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had earlier assured that the Philippines’ purchase of doses from the brand was similar to the cost in other countries, which was around P650 per dose.

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The DOH, for its part, previously said that what were earlier submitted to the Senate finance panel in 2020 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.”

TAGS: COVID-19 Vaccine, DBM

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