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THE Philippine government may have to shell out six times more the amount for the China-made COVID-19 vaccines, which were bought by Indonesia for an equivalent amount of P652.17 per dose.

In a news report published in The Jakarta Post, state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma confirmed that the COVID-19 vaccine will be priced at around Rp 200,000 (US$13.57) per dosage.

Bio Farma president-director Honesti Basyir said the price was based on a recent email from Sinovac Biotech, the Chinese COVID-19 candidate vaccine producer. The same report quoted Basyir as saying: “Bio Farma is committed to supporting the government’s efforts to provide an affordable COVID-19 vaccine to protect Indonesians,”

The Philippine government is buying the same vaccine at P3,629 per dose.

However, the Department of Health (DOH) said that the government would still haggle with the biopharmaceutical firm that developed the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire, prices of vaccines that will be purchased by the government will still undergo negotiations, amid public concern on the price and preference for the vaccines from China.

In a radio interview, Vergeire explained that the market price posted by vaccine manufacturers may not be the actual price of the inoculation shots that will be involved in deals with the government.

“When we say that a specific vaccine has posted ‘yung kanilang market price, hindi naman po talaga ‘yan ang presyong makukuha ng gobyerno. This is through negotiation that you can be able to lower down the prices, depending on the number also that the manufacturer can commit to us,” Vergeire said when asked to comment on the price discrepancies posted by at least six biopharmaceutical firms which developed their brand of vaccines.

“Ibig sabihin, wala po tayong binibigyan na preference among these vaccines. Kung sino po ang manufacturer that can commit to us, that can provide to us with the number of vaccines that we need ‘yun po talaga ay ipupursue natin,” Vergeire added.

Aside from the price, also in question is Sinovac’s potency. Efficacy rates of various vaccines in the global market sees Sinovac’s efficacy way below compared to other brands.

COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca only cost P610.

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez earlier said vaccines from Sinovac, Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, and COVAX Facility may arrive in the Philippines by February.

The government is expecting Sinovac to arrive first among other brands produced by other biopharmaceutical companies. The Philippines has already been assured of 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinovac, 50,000 of which will arrive by February

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