PHL gov’t readies cold storage facilities, bares deployment strategies for COVID-19 vaccines


(Eagle News) — The Philippines is readying cold storage facilities for the expected COVID-19 vaccines that will be coming into the country by next month.

Philippine vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr said that they have already identified the major hubs which already have cold storage warehouses that could store the vaccines.

The central hub is in Metro Manila where millions of vaccine doses can be stored.  From the Philippine capital, there will be “logistic transport” through air lifts to the other major hubs.  The vaccines will then be deployed to the country’s “regional health units,” he explained.

There are major hubs in Visayas, such as in Cebu, and in Mindanao, he sad.

In Mindanao, cold storage warehouses there can store “more or less 500,000 to 1 million vaccines,” he said.

For vaccines that require only 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius, storage options will be no problem as the country has existing facilities for these.  Such vaccines are those developed by Sinovac (CoronaVac), Novovax (CovoVax), and Johnson and Johnson.

For vaccines that require a negative 20 degree Celsius (-20⁰C) for storage, Galvez said that the government will get “private service providers” which they will pay for their cold storage systems.  Moderna, for instance, need storage of negative 20 degrees Celsius (-20⁰C)

Negative 20, puwede nating bigyan iyong mga tinatawag na private service provider. At nakita po namin, babayaran lang po natin na mga one or two dollar per vaccine, iyon po ang nakita namin na babayaran na lang po natin sila para iyong services po nila ay alam na alam po nila iyong pag-deliver po nito katulad ng Zuellig, Unilab at iyong mga service providers na nagbibigay ng cold chain logistics,” he explained in a press briefing Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Vaccines that require storage of negative 70 degrees Celsius (-70⁰C), such as those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, are more challenging.

Galvez said that these vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna will be deployed in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Because of the ultra-cold storage requirement, especially for Pfizer’s vaccines, these would be difficult to distribute in far-flung areas.

Only those vaccines which don’t need to be stored at an extremely low temperature, such as the vaccines developed by Sinovac, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax — with storage requirements of 2⁰C to 8⁰C — can be deployed to rural or far-flung areas, Galvez said.

“Iyong mga 2 to 8 na mga nabili po, iyong Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca at saka po iyong Novavax ito po ang puwede nating i-deploy sa mga far flung areas dahil hindi po ito nangangailangan ng cold chain. Iyon po ang gagawin po natin, ang strategy po na iyan, hindi po natin inimbento. Iyan po ay strategy po na ginawa po ng mga naunang nag-roll out, katulad ng US, UK at dito rin po sa area ng Indonesia,” he said.

(Eagle News Service)