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Sinovac price tag based on 'googled' news article – Duque

Sinovac price tag based on 'googled' news article – Duque

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of  Health (DOH)  had “googled” the prices of Covid-19 vaccines and submitted the list to the Senate.

Health Secretary Francis Duque III  admitted this on Friday when Senator Panfilo Lacson asked, during the hearing of the Senate committee of the whole,  about the list sent to the Senate committee on finance last year.

“This is not intended to open old wounds, so to speak…but this  needs closure because  somehow  the controversy  started   with the submission of the price of Sinovac   last  November  to the committee on finance of the Senate,” Lacson said.

Based on the list, the Sinovac vaccine is the second most expensive, with a P3,629 price tag for two doses per person, next to Moderna, which costs around P3,904 to P4,504.

So when Lacson asked  about the basis of the Sinovac’s  price tag, Duque said: “I  was told  Mr. Chiarman, ito ho yong ginoogle nila at lumabas nga itong sa (they googled it and came across a report from) Reuters  which I already have the copy…”

Duque said the estimated P3, 629 price of Sinovac’s vaccine was the total amount when the reported  $60 cost plus taxes and inflation were computed.

“So the sole basis of that submission, yung news  report ng Reuters and there was no effort to check with Sinovac , the firm, itself para mavalidate lang (to validate it)?” asked Lacson.

“Because you know official document yun, official record, official submission and maybe this would  serve  as a good  lesson in future submissions na dapat bago tayo mag-submit medyo accurate at saka validated yung data (that before you submit, make sure the data is accurate and validated),” he added.

Duque said he was told that at that time, the DOH  had no communications yet with any  vaccine makers so it had to rely on the news report.

His explanation did not  sit well  with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto  III, who was presiding over the hearing as chairman of the  committee.

“Nevertheless, the moral of the story wag submit ng submit, i-verify nyo muna at baka mapagbintangan…(don’t submit without verifying first),”  Sotto said.

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