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Roque welcomes WHO statement that Dengvaxia not a factor in vaccine makers' bid for indemnity deal

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday welcomed the statement of the  World Health Organization that the Dengvaxia controversy has nothing to do with the request of COVID-19 vaccine makers for an indemnity agreement, contrary to what he said days ago.

“We welcome the remarks of the WHO and of course we hold the WHO declaration as the most authoritative declaration on this matter and we leave it at that. So, so be it,” Roque said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO country representative, said that the indemnity agreement is a standard requirement of vaccine makers for all countries because COVID-19 vaccines are still under continuous development.

“They are not specific to the Philippines and they are not related to any issue that happened in the country, relating to Dengvaxia, or anything else. There are common side letters, agreements that all countries receiving vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech will need to sign,” he explained.

On February 17, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said pharmaceutical firms are wary of supplying the country with COVID-19 vaccine because of the Dengvaxia controversy.

“Iyon po talaga ang hinihingi ng mga manufacturer; marami po talaga ang natatakot dahil sa experience sa Dengvaxia na naihabla po ang Sanofi kasi hindi po nailagay ang informed consent,” he said.

On February 19, Roque said COVID-19 vaccine makers are pushing for indemnity agreement due to the Dengvaxia experience.

“Alam ninyo po talagang ang sinabi sa atin ng COVAX facility eh darating 'yung kanilang Pfizer eh dapat sa gitna ng Pebrero. Pero naantala nga po bakit? Tapatan na po, ang Pfizer ang siya ring gumawa ng Dengvaxia na bakuna na naging dahilan kung bakit nakasuhan hindi lang ang mga opisyales ng gobyerno kundi opisyales ng Pfizer,” Roque said in a PTV 4 interview then, referring to the 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech under COVAX facility that he said should have arrived middle of February.

Sanofi Pasteur is the manufacturer of Dengvaxia and not Pfizer. Roque later corrected his mistake.

Also on Wednesday, Roque reiterated that Pfizer-BioNTech sought for the passage of the indemnification law before it deliver the COVID-19 vaccine supply.

“I will confirm that Pfizer really required a particular form of indemnity agreement and in fact the law itself ‘no. So that was confirmed to me last night by Deputy Implementer Secretary Vince Dizon ‘no when we had a pre-press briefing conference,” Roque added.—AOL, GMA News