MANILA – The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. were sold to the Philippines at a “BFF” (best friend forever) price, Malacañang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque rejected critics’ claims that Sinovac vaccines were more expensive than Western brands, insisting that it is only “the third from the most expensive.”
“I am not at liberty, pero (but) I can say, sa lahat po ng oorderin natin, hindi po pinakamahal ang Sinovac. Alam ninyo kasi ang Tsina, hindi po iyan kapitalistang bansa, komunista iyan (among the vaccines we ordered, Sinovac is not the most expensive. China is not a capitalist country, they’re communist). So their prices are not driven by market forces, pupuwede silang unilaterally mag-fix ng price, at I can assure you, nabigyan po tayo ng presyo na ukol lamang sa kanilang BFF (they can unilaterally fix prices, and I can assure, we were given a BFF price),” he said.
Asked to determine which vaccines were among the most expensive, Roque said he could not announce their prices because they are covered by confidentiality agreements.
Last December, the Senate Committee on Finance presented a table that compares the projected prices of seven Covid-19 vaccine brands, including value added taxes and the cost of inflation.
Based on the data, the cheapest available vaccine in the market is from US-based pharmaceutical company Novovax with an estimated cost of PHP366 for two doses, followed by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca (PHP610 for two doses), and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (PHP1,220 for two doses).
US pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s vaccine costs PHP2,379 for two doses followed by China’s Sinovac (PHP3,629.50 for two doses) and US’ Moderna (PHP4,504 for two doses).
Vaccines from the COVAX Facility or the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, a global mechanism designed to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, cost around PHP854 for two doses.
Meanwhile, Roque also cited reports that the Sinovac vaccines had a high efficacy rate among Indonesians.
“Sa mga clinical trials, importante na magamit yung bakuna sa kapareho niyong ethnicity kasi nga po yung genetic makeup. E ang Pilipino at mga Indonesians po, pareho tayong Malay. So kung napatunayan 91.25 [percent] effective po ang bakuna sa Indonesia, na kapwa Malay natin, baka ganun din po ang magiging resulta kung magbakuna tayo dito sa Pilipinas (In clinical trials, it’s important that the vaccine will be used on people with the same ethnicity because of genetic makeup. Filipinos and Indonesians are both Malays. So, if the vaccine is 91.25 percent effective in Indonesia, our fellow Malays, it may have similar results if used in the Philippines),” he said.
He assured the public that the Sinovac vaccines will not be used unless they receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines.
“Ang Sinovac lang po ngayon ang sigurado ‘no; pero iyong kasiguraduhan na gagamitin iyan, nakadepende pa rin po iyan sa FDA kung bibigyan ng approval (Sinovac is the only vaccine we are certain of receiving; but that certainty will depend on whether the FDA gives their approval),” he said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday night said aside from Sinovac, vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca may also arrive in the country as early as February. (PNA)