Lacson: What is so special about Sinovac?

 By Deighton Acuin


"What is so special about Sinovac?"

Senator Panfilo Lacson made this question that he wants to be posed before government officials on the Senate hearing on COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan which is set on Monday.

In an interview over Dobol B sa News TV, Lacson said that he want to inquire concerned officials why they seemed to be “dribbling” with Pfizer and Sinopharm when there are procurement opportunities in the past.

Lacson recalled the incident of procuring 10 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from United States pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, which is expected to arrive in the Philippines by January, if Health Secretary Francisco Duque III submitted the requirements to seal the deal.

The lawmaker also mentioned another incident with Sinopharm’s manufacturer, China Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., which allegedly wrote to the health secretary last May 2020 for the clinical trials in the country but the latter supposedly failed to give a response.

"Gusto natin malaman, may hinihintay ba sila particular brand? Parang may announcement ngayon ang hinihintay ay Sinovac," Lacson said.

“Sinovac is at 50%, lower than Sinopharm's 79% and Pfizer's 95%. Sinovac was also reportedly more expensive than the two,” he added.

"Ang tanong, ano ba ang special sa Sinovac? Bakit yun ang parang hinihintay natin? Dini-dribble natin yung iba?" Lacson asked.
"Maliwanag na naka-dribble ang Pfizer at naka-dribble din ang Sinopharm kasi sila yung mga nauna nang sumulat kay Secretary Duque. Ano talaga ang score?" he added.

Lacson believes even there is a vaccine czar appointed, the liability is still under Duque since he is the “overall in-charge of the country’s health-based pandemic response.”

Duque earlier defended himself on the Pfizer controversy and said that the DOH cannot sign the CDA on behalf of the national government, prompting him, the Department of Science and Technology, and Galvez to sign the CDA separately. 

He also denied that he did not act on the supposed request of Sinopharm to conduct clinical trials for its vaccine in the country, saying he was not aware of any letter.

Lacson is expecting that Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., officials from the Food and Drug Administration, and Duque would testify with the issues during the Senate inquiry.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, said the hearing is meant for seeking clarification from government officials with the vaccination and vaccine delivery plans.

“Parang nasa pressure cooker tayong lahat habang walang maayos na plano para masugpo ang Covid. Nag-bi-build up ang pressure dahil sa limitadong paggalaw na dikta ng mga quarantine restrictions. Marami nang kabuhayan ang nawala at mga negosyong nagsara," Pangilinan said in a statement.

"Deserve ng ating mga mamamayan malaman ang kongkreto at malinaw na plano ng pamahalaan para sa pag-roll-out ng vaccine," Pangilinan added.