The Philippines is not favoring any vaccine manufacturer in the procurement of a vaccine against COVID-19, Secretary Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19, said on Monday.
"Wala tayong policy na pinapaboran ang isang vaccine o isang bansa," Dizon said during the Senate hearing on the government's COVID-19 vaccination program.
"Lahat ng vaccine na safe at effective ay ipu-pursue ng national government, ng ating vaccine czar, vaccine cluster," he added.
Dizon's remarks came after Senator Richard Gordon asked why the Philippines seems to be lagging behind other countries in terms of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
"Hindi ba dapat noon pang sinabi na lalabas na ang vaccine, kahit na hindi pa nakakasigurado ay dapat pumila na tayo let's say sa Pfizer o sa malalaking drug company? Na kung kailangan nila maglagay tayo ng deposito, we could have done that," he said.
"Pero ngayon lumalabas na tayo ay isa sa mga huling bansa na nakakuha ng vaccine," he added.
Dizon, in response, said that is not the case.
"Nung unang-una pa lang na na-appoint si Sec. [Carlito] Galvez bilang vaccine czar ay immediately nakipag-usap na siya sa iba't ibang vaccine companies katulad ng Pfizer at iba pang kumpanya," he said.
"Yung mga finalization ng ating mga agreement sa kanila ay nangyayari na ngayong buwan ng January 2021," he added.
Despite Dizon's response, Gordon surmised that it could be because the Philippines is favoring a Chinese vaccine, with the hope that it could be given for free.
"Sinasabi na may preference daw ang administrasyon sa Chinese medicine. I hope that is not the reason bakit tayo medyo nahuli as you said," Gordon said.
In response, Dizon said: "We can assure you and the entire country that this is not the case. Lahat ng vaccine at lahat ng bansang gumagawa ng bakuna sa COVID-19 ay pina-prioritize at kinakausap natin."
Earlier in the hearing, Galvez said the Philippines has secured 30 million doses of Covovax COVID-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India, and another 60 million doses may also be secured this week.
The Covovax vaccine is currently in the third-stage trials carried out in the United Kingdom with 15,000 subjects, as well as in the United States and Mexico with 30,000 subjects. It also underwent trials in Australia, South Africa, and India.
The vaccine is set to arrive in the country by the third quarter of 2021.—AOL, GMA News