PH gets 40m more doses
Vaccine czar: First deliveries from Pfizer slated in first quarter
The country received its confirmation of participation in the COVAX Facility, paving the way for it to begin receiving vaccines in the first quarter. The country can expect to receive 30 million to 40 million doses from the COVAX Facility, said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. He added that the first deliveries would probably be vaccines from Pfizer. As part of the preparations for the COVID-19 vaccine deployment, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Galvez visited three cold storages that can be used in the first wave of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. These were the First Pioneer Distribution Center of Unilab in Biñan City, Laguna, the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City and the Zuellig Pharma Corp. in Parañaque City. Unilab officials said their cold storage facility has a temperature range of +2 to +8 °C and can store a maximum of 5 million doses of vaccines. Zuellig Pharma reported that its facilities can accommodate pharmaceutical products with temperature requirements ranging between -80°C to +25 °C. Zuellig further noted that its +2 to +8 °C cold rooms can store up to 629 million doses in various warehouses, its -15 to -25 °C walk-in freezers can hold up to 40 million doses, and its 14 ultra-cold freezers with -80 to -70 °C temperature range have the capacity to store up to 6.5 million doses. “The vaccine cluster, on behalf of the government, is grateful to Unilab and Zuellig Pharma for partnering with the government in further strengthening the country’s capacity to curb the pandemic. We also express our commitment to ensure continued support for RITM in its preparations to receive vaccines,” Galvez said. RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos revealed that RITM currently has four cold rooms with a +2 to +8 °C temperature range, one -20 °C walk-in freezer, and two borrowed ultra-low temperature freezers with a -70 to -80 °C temperature range. RITM has committed its ultra-low temperature storage facility. Duque said the vaccine cluster is also in talks with third-party logistics providers to ensure efficiency of the entire supply chain management of COVID-19 vaccines, from the receipt of vaccines from the COVAX Facility to their deployment. “All of these preparations that we are undertaking are aimed at ensuring that the country is ready to receive, store, and mobilize the COVID-19 vaccines that will come from the COVAX Facility,” he said. Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said Galvez assured the senators there will be no overpricing in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. Sotto and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ronald dela Rosa met with Galvez Wednesday night. Galvez also guaranteed that all payments for the vaccines will go directly to the pharmaceutical companies from the lending institution, which will also set in place proper safeguards, Sotto said. He said he was satisfied by Galvez’s assurances and realized he was obligated to keep silent at this stage on the vaccine prices.