China's Sinovac near ₱650 per dose, gov't to bare exact amount after purchase – Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has finally revealed around how much the Philippines will spend per dose of the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech.

Roque said Sinovac's CoronaVac is priced near ₱650 per dose or around ₱1,300 for the complete two doses. He added that the exact amount will be revealed after the Philippines inks the procurement agreement, saying they have only signed a term sheet, where Sinovac agreed to supply 25 million doses to the Philippines.

"Kapag iyan ay na-deliver na at napirmahan na ang kontrata, may obligasyon na kaming sabihin sa inyo magkano talaga. Sa ngayon mahigit kumulang ₱650 (per dose), hindi po tataas ng ₱700," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: Once it has been delivered and we have signed the contact, we will be obliged to tell you how much it costs. For now we can only tell you it's roughly ₱650 but it won't exceed ₱700.]

Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH had submitted a report to the Senate Committee on Finance last year indicating that two doses from the brand cost ₱3,629 based on market price estimates. She said there are now changes after negotiations but the actual prices cannot be divulged yet due to non-disclosure agreements.

"We are already undertaking specific negotiations with the different manufacturers. Mayroon nang negotiated prices na lumalabas [We now have negotiated prices]," she said in a media briefing on Monday.

Despite the clamor of lawmakers and the public, officials previously refused to divulge the price due to the non-disclosure agreement with the Chinese government. But Roque and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines is being charged at "BFF price" since the Philippines is directly dealing with Chinese government officials, including Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.

Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested there may be corruption in the vaccine procurement due to sharp differences in the prices of Sinovac vaccines in the Philippines and in other nations.

This comes after a recent news article on Bangkok Post said that one dose of CoronaVac only costs $5 or roughly P240. The report published on January 16 cited figures from the World Health Organization and drug manufacturers. Jakarta Post, meanwhile, reported that one dose of Sinovac in Indonesia is priced at $13.57 or roughly P670, attributed to Sinovac Biotech's email to state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma.

"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 tweeted.

The Philippines is in the middle to talks to buy 25 million doses from Sinovac. The first batch, 50,000 doses, is set to arrive on February 20. China is set to donate 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines, but Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi did not specify which brand.

Sinovac's application for emergency use in the Philippines has not yet been reviewed pending its submission of the crucial phase 3 clinical trial results.