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Sotto to take up alleged preference of Philippine gov’t for Sinovac in Senate inquiry

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said the alleged preference of the government for the China-made COVID-19 Sinovac will be tackled in the Senate Committee of the Whole's hearing.

"Bakit ang pinipili nila, balita ko pinili na nila ang Sinovac? Bakit iyon? Tatanungin natin bakit iyon? Ano ba efficacy noon?" Sotto said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced Sunday that the Philippines has secured some 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac, with the initial batch expected by February.

Lawmakers had earlier said in December that procuring Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine is "nonsense" if it has only 50% efficacy based on a late-stage trial in Brazil.

The Food and Drug Administration of the country, meanwhile, said an official and published scientific report on the efficacy rate of Sinovac is yet to be released.

Senator Panfilo Lacson was also wondering what is so special about Sinovac that the Philippine government seems to have a preference for it.

He reiterated that in terms of efficacy, Sinovac is at 50%, lower than Sinopharm's 79% and Pfizer's 95%. Sinovac was also reportedly more expensive than the two, he added.

Sotto said Duque and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. are among those who have confirmed attendance to the hearing.

"Bottomline, ang tanong bakit hanggang ngayon wala pa tayo? Eh 24 na bansa na yung nag-uumpisa na eh. 'Yun ang pinaka-main [at] bottomline na tanong doon. Nasaan na tayo?" he said. — RSJ, GMA News