DOH vows to procure ‘best vaccines at most ideal prices’

Published January 18, 2021, 5:14 PM

by Betheena Unite

Filipinos will be provided with the “best vaccines at the most ideal prices,” the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday, clarifying reports on the vaccine prices presented by the Senate.

The Health department made this declaration after the recent circulation of information regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine prices reported by the Senate to have come from the DOH during the deliberations of the 2021 proposed national budget.

“The DOH clarifies that the said vaccine prices were indicative market prices based on the rates published by different manufacturers generated for the purpose of estimating the proposed budget for the vaccination program,” the department said.

“These are not, in any way, the negotiated prices that the government and the manufacturer agreed on,” it added.

It also urged the public “to trust and respect the process” that the country, through vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, is undertaking “to ensure that Filipinos are afforded the best vaccines at the most ideal prices.”

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire recognized the call from medical experts in the country to ensure that the government will only procure safe and efficacious vaccines against the coronavirus disease.

“Ang DOH at ang buong vaccine cluster ay patuloy na makikipagtulungan sa HPAAC (Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19) at sa buong scientific community upang pangalagaan ang scientific, makatao at transparent na proseso ng pagpili at pagbili ng bakuna. Amin ding sisiguruhin na makarating ang bakuna sa lahat ng mangangailangan nito (The DOh and the entire vaccine cluster will continue to work with the HPAAC and to the whole scientific community to ensure the scientific, just, and transparent process in choosing and securing of vaccines. We also ensure to bring the vaccine to all those who need it),” Vergeire said.

The HPAAC in a press briefing also emphasized the importance of proper distribution of vaccines once they are made available for the nationwide vaccination program.

They underscored that a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use can only be sold to the national government.

“We need to understand that under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that was given by FDA, a  company can only sell its vaccine to national government. Because it is under EUA given by the FDA under the EO 121 in December 3 last year,” Dr. Aileen Espina, of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, said.

“It is a risk based process of evaluation that grants authority to a government or public health program to use unlicensed vaccines. That means it does not have a Certificate of Product Registration yet,” Espina added.

The alliance also stressed that this does not mean that local government units are not allowed to procure the vaccines but they need to coordinate with the national government.

This is to ensure that the vaccine is properly distributed and monitored.

The HPAAC also reminded that because the vaccines are still undergoing trial and can only be used for emergency, the government and the DOH should decide on how to allocate and distribute the vaccine.