Palace assures no favoritism in vaccines amid Sinovac preference allegations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — Malacañang said Thursday it is not favoring any COVID-19 vaccine amid allegations that it favors Chinese brand Sinovac’s CoronaVac.

Ang pinag-uusapan lang po, aling bakuna ang makakarating sa lalong mabilis na panahon dito po sa Pilipinas,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a virtual briefing. “Gaya nga ng aking nasabi na nung mga nauna nating press briefing, nagkataon lang na dahil meron tayong special na relasyon siguro sa Tsina, eh napagbigyan tayo at darating ng Pebrero ang Sinovac dito sa Pilipinas.”

[Translation: Our concern is which vaccine will be able to reach the Philippines in the shortest time possible. Like what I’ve mentioned in my previous press briefings, it just so happened that Sinovac will arrive in the Philippines this February, perhaps because of our special relationship with China.]

A number of lawmakers and critics hit the administration for supposedly favoring Sinovac despite its cost and low efficacy rate in clinical trials compared to other vaccines.

Roque said Sinovac’s vaccine is not the most expensive; it is the third from the priciest.

He also said an undisclosed smaller number of doses of Pfizer vaccine will be arriving next month. The country will receive bulk of the supply, tens of millions in total, for the rest of the year.

The Food and Drug Administration announced in a separate briefing that Sinovac applied for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.