PRC clarifies it's not 'selling' Moderna doses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — The Philippine Red Cross said it is not selling Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to the public, and will only make the doses available to its members and donors who are "willing to bear the cost."

The humanitarian organization made this clarification late Monday after its chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, said it will have to charge ₱3,500 for every two Moderna doses when its orders arrive.

Speaking at a media forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Gordon said the PRC purchased a total of 200,000 doses from American pharmaceutical firm Moderna, enough to give 100,000 people their first and second shots. Some 1,500 doses are expected to be delivered by July.

Gordon said the PRC does not "make money," but has to recover expenses it incurred from securing the Moderna supply, as well as the costs of administering it to the public.

“I’d like to set the record straight," he said. "Right now, we will be charging ₱3,500 to recover the cost of our payment of our vaccines from Moderna. But at the same time pay for our administrative cost.”

“We have to have PPEs, we have to have our people fed and they have to have support in terms of the vaccination," he added, "and if you count the other things like electricity, and the ambulance, etc., I think that’s a fair thing do.”

Gordon said the PRC has also administered AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines for free, from the initial supply provided by the government. The reservation line, however, is “getting longer and longer everyday” for those who preferred Moderna, he explained.

"The less people out there with no vaccination, the better," he said.

PRC Governor Ma. Carissa Coscolluela in a statement said the organization "is not in the business of selling any vaccines."

"What he (Gordon) said was that the PRC procured Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and intends to vaccinate Red Cross members and donors, who are also our members, who are willing to bear the cost of the vaccines, which was US$26.83 (around P1,286) per dose plus an administration fee that covers costs for syringes, gloves, PPEs, meals and allowances of our doctors and nurses, and other essential expenses related to the vaccination," Coscolluela said.

Moderna only has an Emergency Use Authorization in the country, not a Certificate of Product Registration that would allow its vaccines to be sold in the market.

Meanwhile, Gordon said the government will “start passing on” some of the vaccines to the PRC, amid concerns that 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses donated to the Philippines through COVAX are set to expire in June.

The senator said this was the result of a meeting with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., and testing czar Vince Dizon last Saturday.