Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said he suspects an attempt to overprice the vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.
In a privilege speech, Laccon said that the "original price" of Sinovac's product, at P3,629 or $38 for two doses or P1,814 or $19 for one dose, had it pushed through compared to $5 price in Thailand, spells a price difference of P16.8 billion for 25 million doses.
Amid questions on the price and efficacy of Sinovac's vaccine, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that the Philippines has secured 25 million doses of the product and that 50,000 doses will arrive by February.
COVID-19 response officials later said this was not yet final as experts and the state regulator have yet to approve the product for use in the country.
"That being said, I am not prepared to accuse anyone in particular of corruption," Lacson said.
"Rather, it defies logic to suspect at least an attempt to overprice the vaccine. Again, when there is an attempt at overpricing, isn’t it also logical to think na may kikita ng limpak-limpak na salapi?" he added.
Lacson said it was "well and good" if it is true that the government has brought down the cost from around P1,800 to P650 per dose.
"We can say that the Senate, through the Committee of the Whole hearings triggered by Sen. Kiko Pangilinan’s Senate resolution has done its fair share in protecting the public coffers and saving our people billions of pesos in the national vaccination program," he said.
He also cited the effort of netizens to demand transparency from officials negotiating with Sinovac.
Earlier, Senate Finance Committee chairperson Sonny Angara provided a list of available vaccines worldwide that bared Sinovac’s price at P3,629 for two doses, which is higher compared with Pfizer-BioNTech (P2,379); Gamaleya (P1,220); COVAX Facility (P854); AstraZeneca (P610); and Novavax (P366).
He explained that these figures came from the Department of Health, which has clarified that these are not yet the negotiated prices.
On Sunday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that each dose of Sinovac's vaccine would cost just around P650.
Officials have not disclosed the actual price, citing a confidentiality agreement with Sinovac.
The Senate will continue its inquiry into the government's COVID-19 vaccination plans on Friday. — DVM, GMA News