Duque: Philippine pricing for Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine 'googled'

 By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Department of Health (DOH) “googled” the pricing of coronavirus vaccines to its submitted report to the Senate, Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday.

Duque admitted this when he was asked by Senator Panfilo Lacson about the list sent to Senate Finance panel last year.

“This is not intended to open old wounds, so to speak…but this  needs closure because  somehow  the controversy  started   with the submission of the price of Sinovac   last  November  to the committee on finance of the Senate,” Lacson said.

According to the list, vaccines from pharmaceutical companies Moderna is the most expensive with a price of around P3,904 to P4,504 while Sinovac costs P3,629 for two doses per individual.

So when Lacson asked  about the basis of the Sinovac’s  price tag, Duque said: “I was told Mr. Chairman, ito ho yong ginoogle nila at lumabas nga itong sa Reuters  which I already have the copy…”

The estimated price for Sinovac vaccine was the total amount when the reported $60 plus taxes and inflation values were computed, according to Duque.

“So the sole basis of that submission, yung news  report ng Reuters and there was no effort to check with Sinovac , the firm, itself para mavalidate lang?” asked Lacson.

“Because you know official document yun, official record, official submission and maybe this would  serve  as a good  lesson in future submissions na dapat bago tayo mag-submit medyo accurate at saka validated yung data,” he added.

Furthermore, Duque said he was told at the time that DOH had no communications with drugmakers yet so it had to rely on the news article.

However, his explanation did not sit well with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who was presiding the investigative hearing as the chairperson of Senate Committee of the Whole.

“Nevertheless, the moral of the story wag submit ng submit, i-verify nyo muna at baka mapagbintangan…,”  Sotto said.

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