Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. (left) and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin

Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Action Plan vs Covid-19 and the country’s vaccine czar, has belied claims the Philippines had missed out on a procurement of 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer.

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

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson later identified Health Secretary Francisco Duque III as the official who mishandled the vaccine talks with Pfizer.

Galvez, in a statement, said the vaccine selection process was lengthy, and the confidential disclosure agreement Lacson said Duque had failed to submit was only “one of the many phases of the negotiations.”

“No ‘bus’ was missed or no ‘ball’ was dropped because we are focused on our main goal, and that is, to secure an equitable share of the vaccines,” Galvez said.

The selection process, he added, was based on safety, efficacy, cost-effectiveness, the track record of the vaccine maker, complexity of handling and logistics, after-sales and life cycle services, production capacity and early delivery and long-term commitment.

The vaccine czar said Filipinos should understand that the market for the vaccines was congested as 80 percent of the vaccines had been procured by the manufacturers’ country of origin.

Galvez on Saturday also said it would be impossible for government officials to earn kickbacks from the country’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines as funding would be managed by multilateral partners.

“Kongkreto na po iyan na talagang hindi pupuwedeng magkaroon po ng kickback dahil ang pondo pong gagamitin natin ay Asian Development Bank (ADB) at saka iyong World Bank,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

In July, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines would be able fund the vaccination of “the poorest 20 million Filipinos” once a Covid-19 vaccine became available.

Congress earlier approved a P72.5-billion budget for the country’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines under the Philippines’ 2021 national budget.

The amount would be enough to inoculate 60 million Filipinos, Malacañang said.

The Philippines has recorded 458,044 Covid-19 cases as of Dec. 19. John Ezekiel J. Hirro