By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Reacting to the allegation of Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson that we would have secured the delivery of 10 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer as early as January next year if Duque had worked on documentary requirements needed for the deal, health secretary Francico Duque III countered that there were only ‘indicative’ numbers that were mentioned during official talks between the Philippine government and Pfizer for the procurement of the said vaccines.
According to Duque, the US pharmaceutical firm never promised to provide the Philippine government with 10 million doses of its vaccine despite the signing of a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) between the two parties.
“There was no such thing like that. It was all indicative numbers. There was no definitive supply. I think if you will get a chance to talk to Sec. Galvez, he would tell you there is a problem in the production of these vaccines as we are talking because there is a problem in their raw materials,” he said in a television interview.
He said there was nothing binding as to the number of doses that would be provided by Pfizer as the talks and transaction were all open-ended.
“It was really meant to just get the data from Pfizer to know more about the safety profile of the vaccine, efficacy, and result of the clinical phase 1 and 2 trials because at that time they are still not done with their clinical trials phase 3,” the health chief explained.
“The thing is I do not recall that there is anything definitive that we will get 10 million doses.’ There was nothing like that. Everything was indicative,” he Duque said.
In addition, there was no deadline set by Pfizer on the signing of the CDA.
Lacson dropped the name of Duque after foreign affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stated the other day that he and Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel ‘Babe’ Romualdez had arranged for the delivery of the vaccines with the help of US secretary-of-state Michael Richard Pompeo.
“That said, my thanks just the same to . . . Pompeo. We—Babe Romualdez and I—got 10 million doses of Pfizer financed by World Bank and ADB to be shipped thru FedEx to Clark (airport) in January,” Locsin tweeted.
The health secretary had earlier denied there was negligence on the part of the Department of Health (DoH).
He clarified that it was only on September 24 that the health department was informed that instead of the Department of Science of Technology (DoST), the DoH would be the agency to sign the deal with Pfizer.
“I have the chronology of events so that this is all documented, and there is no such a thing that I did not act quickly enough.
“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 at that,” Duque claimed.
In conclusion, he said that the Pfizer deal still had to go through several processes.
“We cannot just be buying vaccines like we are buying a box of chocolates. There are so many logistical issues,” he ended saying.