By Deighton Acuin


Amid concerns of efficacy rate and price, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Friday slammed the critics of government’s decision of securing 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac.

In an interview, Roque tagged critics as ignorant, insisted that Sinovac vaccine is not a pricey brand.

“Iyong mga kritiko ng gobyerno talaga, tira nang tira wala namang mga alam,” Roque said. 

“Nasa gitna po ang presyo ng Sinovac, hindi po siya ang pinakamahal, mayroon pang dalawang brand na mas mahal kaysa po sa Sinovac,” Roque added.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Roque declined to disclose the prices given to the government, saying that such matters are covered by confidentiality agreement, However, he maintained that the country secured the vaccine doses at a “BFF” rate.

“Iyan po ang presyong nakuha natin sa PRC [People’s Republic of China], kasi alam ninyo mga komunista, wala naman silang market price eh. Puwede silang mag-decide kung ikaw ay kaibigan na ibaba ang presyo at iyan po ang ginawa nila,” he said.

According to a report disclosed by Senator Sonny Angara, Sinovac has a price of P3,629.50 for two doses per individual.

This is more expensive compared to Pfizer-BioNTech (P2,379); Gamaleya (P1,220); COVAX Facility (P854); AstraZeneca (P610); and Novavax (P366). The cost of two doses of Moderna vaccine ranges from P3,904 to P4,504.

Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the market price of Sinovac is much higher than COVAX vaccines the Philippines still negotiating with.

Roque also explained why the vaccine known as CoronaVac appeared to be more expensive than other brands.

“I-explain ko lang po kung bakit po mahal ang Sinovac, kasi ito po ay inactivated virus. Ibig sabihin totoong virus siya na kumbaga, pinatay o pinahina. So bago pa magawa iyan, dapat iko-culture mo muna iyong virus, so matagal iyong proseso, natural iyong proseso,” he said.

“Kaya nga po believe it or not mabuti na lang at maganda ang ating pagkakaibigan sa Tsina dahil iyong nakuha nating volume na 25 million mahirap pong makuha iyan dahil nga matagal iyong proseso kapag natural na ginagawa ang isang bakuna.”

Lawmakers earlier urged the government of reconsidering the purchase of Chinese pharmaceutical vaccine since it was allegedly expensive and less effective.

At the Senate hearing on the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program on Friday, Senator Panfilo Lacson assured Galvez that there is no politics behind the inquiry.

Lacson was among the senators who have previously questioned the alleged preference of the government for the Sinovac vaccine.

An initial 50,000 doses of CoronaVac will be shipped to the Philippines in February. The number will then substantially increase until the delivery of 25 million doses is completed by December.