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Vaccine czar assures senators’ shots are priced competitively

THE COUNTRY’S vaccine czar met with some Senate leaders on Wednesday to assure them that coronavirus vaccines bought by the government were not overpriced.

Vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. showed senators including Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III a copy of the purchase contracts to prove these are above board, Mr. Sotto told reporters in a Viber group message on Wednesday night.

“Secretary Galvez assured us through the agreements that there will be no room for overpricing by any person, entity or group,” he said.

All payments will go directly from the lending institution, which had safeguards against corruption, to the drug makers, Mr. Sotto said.

Also present at the meeting were Senators Panfilo M. Lacson and Ronald M. de la Rosa and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, who is in charge of the government’s contact-tracing activities.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte this week said the government could not disclose the prices of the vaccines under the contracts because of nondisclosure rules.

Mr. Sotto said the Senate would hold its third hearing on the government’s immunization program on Friday.

“The hearing will push through and hopefully we will be able to elicit enough information to be able to convince our countrymen that the vaccines no matter what brand will be necessary, for us to defeat the virus,” he said.

Mr. Lacson said their meeting with Mr. Galvez clarified many issues and concerns raised by senators, particularly on the vaccine prices. The lawmakers also agreed not to disclose contract details, he said.

“We advised him to explain in tomorrow’s hearing the same way that he did last night, without violating the terms of the agreement with the vaccine suppliers,” he said in a statement on Thursday. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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