MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said it has acted “with urgency” and in accordance with the government’s protocols to get a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine deal with pharmaceutical firm, Pfizer.

"The DOH stands clear that while the Department wants to expedite the process, there are systems and protocols in place and we cannot cut corners," the DOH said in a statement, reacting to the alleged delays in the progress of the vaccine deal with Pfizer.

The DOH said its legal and technical teams have worked closely with Pfizer to finalize the agreement and negotiate on "several contentious provisions" since the department was instructed to sign the Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) on behalf of the Philippine Government.

"After a thorough review process with the concerned agencies, including the Office of the President, the CDA was signed the same day it was finalized," the DOH said.

In a media forum on Wednesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the negotiations with Pfizer are ongoing and National Policy Against Covid19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez signed a CDA with Pfizer in November.

“There is no such thing as dropping the ball. Negotiations are ongoing. In fact, Sec. Galvez signed a CDA with Pfizer in November. He will be in the best position to answer questions on the status of our negotiations with them,” Duque said.

As member of the Vaccine Cluster under Galvez, the DOH said it is doing everything to ensure that the country has access to safe and effective Ccovid-19 vaccines.

While waiting for the vaccine, the DOH reminded again the public not to be complacent and to continue adhering to the minimum public health standards especially during the holiday season. (PNA)