Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said the price of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines might smack of corruption as the prices offered here and elsewhere show sharp differences.
Lacson noted that while Sinovac may cost a little as $5 (about P240) per dose abroad, it may cost as much as a whopping $38 (more than P1, 800) in the Philippines.
The senator said a news article on Bangkok Post dated Jan. 16, 2021 indicated that the price of Sinovac was only $5 per dose, based on the figures provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and from the manufacturers.
But the Department of Health (DOH), during the budget deliberations last November, provided the Senate Committee on Finance the data on the Sinovac vaccine price which is at P3,629.50 for two doses.
“The difference in prices of Sinovac vaccine at US$5, US$14 and US$38 reminds me of an old story about how corruption is committed in three Southeast Asian countries – UNDER the table, ON the table, and INCLUDING the table,” Lacson said in a post on his Twitter account.
“Here, it may cost $38.50 (P1,847.25) per dose but is covered by a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA),” he pointed out.
Lacson noted that during the Senate Committee of the Whole last week, the chief implementers of the vaccination program obviously showed preference for Sinovac, which is a privately owned corporation based in Beijing, China.
He said this might fuel speculations that corruption is involved in the government’s dealings with Sinovac especially after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. openly admitted that he was dealing directly with an executive of Biotech Sinovac Ltd. which is based in Hong Kong, instead of ensuring a government-to-government (GTG) transaction.
“May track record sila nanunuhol. Bakit doon tayo nagpupumilit makikipag-usap (Sinovac has a track record of bribery, yet why insist on dealing with them)?” Lacson has said in an interview on DWIZ Saturday.
“Considering all these, can we blame the lawmakers and even our countrymen why they express suspicion in the government’s vaccination program?” he pointed out.
Lacson had also said senators should hold another hearing on the issues hounding the government’s COVID-19 inoculation plan so Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III can answer senators’ questions about the government’s dealing with Sinovac president Helen Yang.
If it is also true that the government is dropping the price of Sinovac vaccines to only P650 per dose, Lacson said the Senate must have done its share to save the government billions worth of funds.
“If it’s true that government is now dropping the price of Sinovac vaccine from P1,847.25 per dose to only P650, the Senate has probably done our share to save our people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program,” he said also in his Twitter account.
“Netizens can pat themselves on the back,” Lacson also said.