Opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan on Wednesday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to reconsider its order to purchase of Sinovac vaccines following the results of a new study in Brazil showing a 50.4-percent efficacy rate of the China-made vaccine.
“Sinovac, with just over 50 percent efficacy, is six times more expensive than AstraZeneca, which in contrast shows a 70-percent efficacy. Sinovac is more expensive yet it has the lowest efficacy. Given these latest findings, we call on the DOH to cancel the purchase of said vaccines,” Pangilinan said in a tweet.
“Bakit tayo gagastos sa mas mahal na pinakamababa ang bisa? Why will we pay for a more expensive vaccine that has lowest efficacy?” he asked. (Why should we spend for a very expensive vaccine that has the lowest efficacy?)
Pangilinan cited news reports that the Brazil trial results were barely enough for regulatory approval and well below the 78-percent efficacy rate announced last week.
At Monday’s Senate Committee of the Whole (COW) public hearing regarding the vaccine roll-out, Pangilinan said the country should procure vaccines on the bases of both higher efficacy and lower cost.
The efficacy rate for the other vaccines are: Moderna 95 percent, Pfizer and BioNTech 95 percent, Gamaleya 92 percent, and AstraZeneca 70 percent.
The efficacy rate measures the reduction in the risk rate of infection of the individual inoculated with the vaccine, not the entire population.
According to data shared during the interpellation on the bicameral report on the 2021 national budget, the cost of Sinovac is P3,629.50, Moderna at P3,904-P4,504, Pfizer P2,379, Gamaleya P1,220, via Covax facility P854, AstraZeneca P610, and Novavax P366.
The Philippines has secured 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech, with the first 50,000 expected to arrive in February.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the rest of the Sinovac vaccines would arrive in batches from March until December and that Filipinos would not be able to choose their vaccine.
In Metro Manila, local government units have allocated funds to procure doses from AstraZeneca while the Ayala Group has pledged 450,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines as its contribution to the national vaccine program.
As of January 13, the Philippines has reported 491,258 COVID-19 cases, with 23,532 active cases and 9,554 deaths.
On December 14, Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution 594 asking the Senate Committee of the Whole to look into the government national Covid-19 vaccination program.
The Senate Committee of the Whole resumes its hearing this coming Friday.