The Philippines may still turn its back on 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac, coronavirus response officials Carlito Galvez and Vince Dizon said on Friday.
The officials made the remarks after senators grilled vaccine czar Galvez on why the government spent money on Sinovac vaccines when its efficacy paled in comparison with other vaccine brands.
“If the vaccine-expert panel does not recommend a certain vaccine, then the Philippine government will not purchase and will not administer the vaccine,” explained Dizon.
He added that the vaccine-expert panel had only included the seven vaccines, including Sinovac, in the portfolio of possible vaccines to be purchased and used based on an initial review of the data.
“Pero hindi pa po final ito,” Dizon emphasized. “So hihintayin pa po natin ang vaccine-expert panel final recommendation based on the phase 3 clinical trials and also the FDA issuance of the Emergency Use Authority.”
Galvez likewise chimed that “technically” the government had not yet purchased the Sinovac vaccine, and that the government had not shelled out any money for Sinovac's product.
The vaccine czar explained that under the government's negotiations with vaccine manufacturers, the non-disclosure agreement would come first, to be followed by the inking of a term sheet, with the supply agreement containing the terms of payment coming last.
"Wala pa po tayong ginagastos," Galvez said, noting that only a term sheet has so far been signed with Sinovac.
Senator Nancy Binay who questioned Galvez and Dizon on the supposed Sinovac purchase asked the rollout officials to think as parents do.
"When it comes to the use of... kung anong bakuna gagamitin, sana isipin ninyo na magulang kayo ng bayan. Kasi, 'di ba ho, pag isa kang magulang, you would always pick what's best for your children, lalong-lalo na pagdating sa health nila. Sana ganun 'yung mindset natin," said Binay.
"Kung ano po ang recommendation ng vaccine experts natin, science-based, and it will be passed to the FDA, kung ano po ang unang vaccine na pupunta dito, I'm willing to have that and with my family," Galvez replied.
Last January 10, the Health Department announced that millions of Sinovac vaccine doses had been secured.
"We sealed the deal with Sinovac for 25 million with early 50,000 doses by February, 950,000 by March and 2 to 3 million in succeeding months 'til December with 25 million doses,'' announced Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. — DVM/NB, GMA News