President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomes newly-appointed Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Carlito Galvez Jr., as a new member of his cabinet prior to the 33rd Cabinet Meeting held at the Malacañan Palace on January 7, 2019. ROLANDO MAILO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Local government units (LGUs) cannot independently sign deals with drug manufacturers, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. reiterated on Wednesday.

In a briefing, Galvez clarified that LGUs were only able to secure doses from vaccine firms through tripartite deals, which involve the government.

This, after the national government’s vaccine negotiators were bashed by senators for seemingly preferring Chinese-made Sinovac vaccines over Western-made ones, while LGUs have been securing deals with AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish drug firm.

“Dapat ang gobyerno po ang mamamahala para mayroon pong close control at mayroon po tayong tinatawag na adverse effect monitoring… Para hindi po maging loose ang magiging control ng mga vaccine, dahil ito po ay hindi pa po ito tinatawag na 100 percent aprubado,” Galvez said.

In such tripartite deals, LGUs are tasked to make arrangements with vaccine manufacturers and prepare for the inoculation of their residents.

The national government, meanwhile, is in charge of the cold chain and management of vaccines and storage facilities.

‘Vaccine rates confidential’

Galvez also said the prices of Covid-19 vaccines circulating online were market rates and higher than the negotiated rates under Covax.

Covax is a global initiative coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization, which seeks to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved.

Galvez said vaccine prices negotiated under the platform were bound by confidentiality obligations.

“We want to caution the public on the prices of vaccines circulating online and in many publications. These are market prices and not the Covax prices that were in our negotiations with vaccine manufacturers,” he said in a statement.

“The Covax prices are almost 300 percent lower than the market prices. In as much as we want to disclose the price list of these vaccines, our negotiations are bounded by a confidentiality agreement,” he added.

Galvez assured that vaccines to be procured by the government would undergo evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure their safety and efficacy.

“Only FDA-approved vaccines, whether for an emergency use authorization or for clinical trials, will be used in inoculating the Filipino people. Regardless of brand names or country origin, all vaccine candidates will undergo the same rigorous regulatory review procedures,” he said.

The country has a P73.2-billion budget for Covid-19 vaccines in 2021. John Ezekiel J. Hirro