Senators deny favoring any Covid vaccine

Senators deny favoring any Covid vaccine

By Tracy Cabrera

MANILA — Following reports that the legislative probe into the country’s Covid-19 inoculation drive favors any vaccine brand, at least two senators have denied the allegations, stressing that the Senate has “nothing but good intentions in conducting the hearings.”

No less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III issued a rebuttal to insinuations made by President Rodrigo Duterte that some members of the Upper House was using the Senate hearings to favor a certain brand of a vaccine against the deadly novel coronavirus or nCoV.

“We, the members of the Senate, do not favor any particular brand of vaccines, but we favor any vaccine that is correctly priced, properly procured and distributed,” Sotto said in his opening statement in the third hearing on the country’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.

Some senators had earlier questioned the procurement of the vaccine from China’s Sinovac, which was reportedly more expensive and less efficient than other brands.

On Monday, Duterte offered to buy Pfizer vaccines for the Senate as he scored some of its members for pushing the government to buy jabs from the US-based pharmaceutical giant.

“Malacañang’s accusation that we are probing because we are favoring a vaccine brand is saddening,” Senator Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel pointed out.

“I want also to put it on record—and it is fully reflected in our Senate journal—na sa hinaba-haba ng mga hearing dito sa Senado tungkol sa vaccines, walang ni isang beses na ako o kahit sinong senador ay may kinilingan na kahit anong brand,” she added.

Hontiveros, who Duterte singled out in his Monday speech, said the hearing should find out the vaccines’ efficacy rate, their price, accessibility, and complete data.

“We don’t need any part of the government to be a medical representative,” she enthused.

Government health authorities said immunization has been scheduled by next month with the hope that as much as 70 million people, or two-thirds of the population would be inoculated the current year.

The Duterte administration, through its proclaimed vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has firmed up supply deals with China’s Sinovac, US-based Pfizer, Novavax, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

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