Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday cost is not the only factor in buying COVID-19 vaccines, adding the government would also look at its safety and effectiveness.
Vergeire made the remark after President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines would go for the cheapest COVID-19 vaccines due since they all offer the same effect.
“Kung sino magbigay ng mura dun tayo pupunta [we will go for whatever is the cheapest]. We know we don’t have much money, kung mahal masyado, we will go for the less expensive ones,” Duterte said.
The potential anti-coronavirus should be cleared by the World Health Organization and the country’s regulatory agencies before the Department of Health buys them, Vergeire said in an online forum.
“Ang gusto po natin ay iyong pinakamabisa for our population. Bago tayo bumili ng bakuna, dapat masigurado natin ‘yung safety at efficacy. Kaya nga po tayo bumuo pa ng vaccine expert panel under Department of Science and Technology to ensure this,” she said.
(What we want is the most effective for our population. Before we buy a vaccine, we must ensure safety and efficacy. That is why we have set up a vaccine expert panel under the Department of Science and Technology to ensure this.)
Buying COVID-19 vaccines
The DOH official added the COVID-19 vaccines should be Food and Drug Administration registered and Philippine National Drug Formulary, Health Technology Assessment Council, and WHO approved.
“Dapat po ang bakuna, pre-qualified po ng WHO kasi tedious na po ang pre-qualifications ng WHO. So this is another layer of safeguard. Dapat po may clearance from international and reputable institutions abroad,” she said.
(The vaccine should be pre-qualified by the WHO because its pre-qualifications are already tedious. So this is another layer of safeguard. There must be clearance from international and reputable institutions abroad.)
“Iyong presyo will always matter, pero kung may makita po tayo na pinakamura na safe at effective, iyan po ang objective rin natin,” Vergeire added.
(The price will always matter, but if we find something that is the cheapest, safe and effective, that is also our objective.)
As of September 8, the Philippines has 52,893 active cases of COVID-19 after recording 185,178 recoveries and 3,916 deaths.