QCOSTARICA – The contract signed by the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias (CNE) – National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Commission – for the acquisition of three million doses of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines against the new coronavirus has a confidentiality clause on the price of injections that, if broken, the company can suspend the supply.
This was announced Wednesday afternoon, December 29, by the president of the CNE, Alexander Solís, during the last press conference of the year on the state of national emergency caused by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Solís was asked whether the Government had issued a decree to keep the cost of the vaccines secret, which he ruled out and explained that it was rather a confidentiality clause in the agreement signed with the pharmaceutical company.
“As a country cannot afford that luxury, risking the consequence that could imply the immediate suspension of the delivery of the vaccines.
“The contract establishes the clause. So far we do not have any executive decree in this regard. We only have the obligation as the signatory country of the contract to comply with that confidentiality clause or otherwise, we expose ourselves to the sanctions provided in the contract,” said Solís.
Solís assured that the only amount he was authorized to provide was the global amount of costs for six million doses of the vaccines (three million doses from Pfizer, one million for AstraZeneca, and two million through the Covax Facility program of the World Health Organization (WHO), is US$70 million dollars.
This figure also includes about US$800 thousand for the purchase of supplies necessary for the storage and application of the treatments in the national territory.
“Really what is being prioritized in this case, being a commercial contract and being a request from the seller, in this case from the company that supplies us the vaccines, that it had to be kept that way, what we have applied is a prioritization between the right to health and the right to information, understanding that the strongest good yields, in an emergency situation, to the weakest good.
“In this sense, we, and our team of lawyers, are in permanent contact with the company’s counterparts to determine the moment in which the information can be released,” said CNE head.
Solís explained that the selection of vaccines responds to technical studies by the National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology (CNVE), coordinated by the Ministry of Health and the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) and the approval of the Comptroller General (CGR)
“(…) this is a market in which the client is not the one who determines how it is done, if at all. We want to prioritize health, thus we have to play in the terms in which the seller … our fundamental objective is that the country have the best vaccine for our population,” emphasized Solís.
“The confidentiality is not a prerogative that the Government gives itself. I want to be very clear on that. That is why we do not have any decree in this regard. We must respect the clause,” Solís insisted.
According to Solís, the auxiliary body of the Legislative Assembly established that the “correct path” was chosen, in response to the direct contracting with the companies that supply the vaccines.
Costa Rica started its immunization campaign against Covid-19 on December 24, with the first phase, vaccinating health personnel of hospital centers, first responders such as police, Red Cross and firefighters, and seniors living in long-stay homes, which is expected to culminate in six weeks.