Duque says no ''definitive'' number of vaccine doses Pfizer will give to Philippines
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said there is still no “definitive” number of coronavirus vaccine doses that Pfizer will supply to the country after he was alleged to be the one who “dropped the ball” in the negotiation with the pharmaceutical company.
In a TV interview, Duque said Pfizer did not promise to the Philippine government that they will supply 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021.
“There’s no such thing as that… There was no definitive supply because I think you have the chance to talk to (Secretary Carlito) Galvez and he told you there is a problem in the production of this vaccine as we are talking because they have a problem in raw materials,” he said.
“Besides, there is nothing binding, nothing in our talks so this are all open-ended, exploratory and it was really meant to get the data from Pfizer to know more the safety profile of the vaccine, the efficacy, (and) the result of their clinical phase 1 and 2 trials,” he added.
In a statement, Senator Panfilo Lacson Jr said the Philippines could have secured 10 million Pfizer vaccines as early as January if Duque did not fail to work on the necessary documentary requirement such as the Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA).
But according to Duque, it is not true he did not act quickly enough in the negotiations with Pfizer.
“The thing is you go through a process and when you go through a process, you cannot just be hurrying up things just like that, you have to be prudent and cautious especially because you are talking about a brand new novel vaccine… and the technology that it is using, the mRNA platform is also new, never been tried or tested. So you know as a medical professional, as a physician, my overriding principle in my practice of medicine is always to err on the side of caution,” he said.
Duque said since Pfizer sent an overview of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate in June, they have been continuously coordinating with them.
“We have to clear the provision of the CDA and we have to make sure the provision is not onerous or disadvantageous to the DOH and to the government,” he said.
“This is not as simple as making a document of a medicine or vaccine that you are already using. This is new so to me as a doctor, my bound and duty is to ensure the safety of our vaccinees especially this is a new one,” he said.
Duque said he signed the CDA in October despite feeling that the provision is a bit one-sided.
“I can only sign for the DOH,” he said.
Duque said Pfizer did not set any deadline on the signing of CDA.
“No deadline was set by Pfizer. Nothing in all our documents, nothing was shown that there is a deadline,” he said.
Duque also said that the government is not leaning on acquiring the Sinovac from China.
“There are no favorites here. As I have said earlier, it goes through the process,” he said.Ella Dionisio/DMS