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Galvez and Sinovac rep say Sinovac's vaccine not expensive, but they can't say exactly how much

By Camille Santiago Published Jan 18, 2021 3:04 am Updated Jan 18, 2021 4:20 am

A representative of Chinese company Sinovac has denied claims that their vaccine — dubbed CoronaVac — is among the most expensive in the world.

From $5 (P240), to $14 (~P672), up to $38 (~P1,826)—these are the reported prices of Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac in different countries.

On Sunday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson tweeted saying, “The difference in prices of Sinovac vaccine at $5, $14 and $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.”

“Here, it may cost $38.50 (P1,847.25) per dose but is co­vered by a confidentiality disclosure agreement,” he added.

Not the “second most expensive vaccine”

Sinovac Biotech’s general manager Helen Yang rebutted as false claims that their vaccine is among the most expensive one. Last week, varying prices of the different vaccines have been circulating online, which shows that Sinovac is priced at P1,443 to P3,629.50.

In an interview with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines on Jan. 18, Yang said that they are “definitely not on the (most) expensive,” adding, “it is the mission of Sinovac to provide the vaccine at an affordable price.”

While Yang declined to disclose the amount per dose, she did however say that it is “reasonable.”

Meanwhile, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. said in an interview with ANC on Jan. 18 that the information circulating about the rates are incorrect.

According to him, the “realistic” price of Sinovac would be somewhere “in between India and Indonesia’s price,”—wherein India’s is priced at 1,027 rupees (P673) per dose and Indonesia’s is priced at 200,000 rupiahs (P700) per dose.

“Mali po yung $36, mali po yung $76, very erroneous po yung information na yon,” he said.

Galvez told Davila that Sinovac’s market price is $26.50 (P1,270). “Kaya po pinili namin ang Sinovac kasi mas mura sya ng di hamak sa Sinopharm.” 

“It is the mission of Sinovac to provide the vaccine at an affordable price.” — Helen Yang, Sinovac Biotech's general manager

Market price revealed, negotiated price still cannot be disclosed

On Sunday, Jan. 17, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview that the cost of the Sinovac vaccine could be around P650.

“China’s prices are not like capitalist companies that are market-dictated. They can adjust their prices accordingly, depending on who is buying.” He also added, “That’s why Beijing doesn’t want to announce its prices, because other countries that are not as close to them would find out they might have bought at a more expensive price.”

The following morning, Galvez Jr. told Davila the same thing, explaining the reason behind it. “Hindi po namin puwede i-reveal yung prices,” the vaccine czar said. “Magtatampo yung ibang countries sa kanila at masisira po ang pangalan ng China sa ibang countries,” he explained.

He said that a signed confidentiality disclosure agreement or CDA hinders them from revealing the prices, too, adding that if revealed, the manufacturers have the right to withdraw from the contract. 

“Hindi po namin puede i-reveal yung prices. Magtatampo yung ibang countries sa kanila (Sinovac) at masisira po ang pangalan ng China sa ibang countries.” — Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Prices may vary per country

Yang said prices vary per country as each dose does not only account for the ingredients of the vaccine but several factors as well.

“People should think what are the costs involved in the vaccine. Buying the vaccine is only one—logistics, transportation, infrastructure of getting the vaccine rollout in the country should be all included," she said.

What’s the status

The Philippines is expecting to receive 25 million vaccines in total from Sinovac Biotech by the end of 2021, should it be approved by the regulating board. Today, Yang revealed that Sinovac is in the middle of negotiations with the Philippines.

“We have already entered into a term sheet with the Philippine government. If it is approved, we should discuss further on the definitive agreement,” Yang said.

She also added that registration documents have already been submitted to regulators in the Philippines.