(Photo grabbed from Dr. Tony Leachon’s Facebook)

Former National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Leachon on Wednesday called for “clear and honest” answers on the country’s alleged botched procurement of 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from American pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Leachon made the statement after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin said he had secured 10 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccines but “somebody dropped the ball.”

“The Filipino people need clear and honest answers. We are running out of time. The whole world is vaccinating now. We should enlist more people to help,” Leachon said in a tweet.

Leachon also pointed out that the government should not settle for the Chinese-produced Sinovac vaccines because of the mishandling of the Pfizer deal.

“Why settle for Sinovac without efficacy and safety data just because we failed to queue up early and missed the bus ? We deserve the right vaccine for health workers, essential workers, military and the poor,” he said.

Leachon also called for a more transparent vaccine approval process.

“In procuring the right vaccine, transparency is key. In fact in US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) EUA (emergency use approval) process there’s public hearing on the results of Pfizer vaccine before approval. It will increase vaccine awareness and reduce vaccine hesitancy to achieve herd immunity,” he said.

“Getting the right vaccine for mass vaccination is the only solution to end pandemic to reopen the economy and bring us back to normalcy. It’s time for the coach to retire the one who dropped ball – he has many dropped balls. This one is for the championship. For the WIN,” he added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who also chairs the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, refuted Locsin’s claim and said negotiations with Pfizer were ongoing.

In a Palace briefing on Tuesday, however, IATF and presidential spokesman Harry Roque said only China had promised vaccine supply to the Philippines.

“Kaya po natin binibili ang Sinovac, kasi wala naman tayong makuha kaagad na Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna. Ang Pfizer po sana po makarating na, pero anytime between second and third quarter iyan at hindi naman po katanggap-tanggap kay Presidente na mag-aantay ng ganoong katagal,” he said.

“Ang problema, gustuhin man natin ang Pfizer, e wala naman tayong makuha para sa first quarter. Ang tina-target ng delivery ng Pfizer na hindi pa natin alam kung ilan ay sa second at sa third quarter. At maraming hindi na makakaantay ng second to third quarter,” he added.

According to Roque, the country’s criteria on Covid-19 vaccines didn’t include vaccine prices: “Dalawa po ang criteria natin – dapat ligtas; dapat epektibo,” he added.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. in November said the country’s target rollout date for its mass vaccination program is May 2021. John Ezekiel J. Hirro