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Galvez: Ultra cold storage for COVID-19 vaccines limited to NCR, cities of Cebu and Davao

The ultra low temperature storage needed for preserving the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines of American firm Pfizer-BioNTech is limited to National Capital Region and cities of Cebu and Davao, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Monday.

Galvez made the disclosure during the Senate Committee on the Whole probe on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“Kung anong cities po ang may pharmaceutical companies na merong ganitong storage, NCR up to Cebu and Davao po [ang meron],” Galvez said.

“We will devise ways and means,” Galvez added.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque echoed Galvez’s statement, citing the experience of the United States.

“Pati po sa Amerika na napakarami nilang na-order, nasasayang po dahil from the factory to delivery, hay naku, hindi po nasusunod yung cold chain,” Roque said at a news conference.

“Sa mga mayroong colonial mentality na gusto ng Pfizer, puwede po kayong maghintay, pero ang ating warning po ay talagang diyan lang po iyan mabibigay dito sa Pilipinas sa mga major na siyudad kasi wala naman talaga tayong cold chain capacity outside of Metro Manila na -70 [degrees Celsius].”

Galvez said that COVID-19 vaccines needing -20 to -70 degrees Celsius temperature for storage will be stored in a central hub while those which can be stored as 2 to 8 degrees Celsius will be deployed in suburban and rural areas for easier management.

Nevertheless, Galvez assured the public that Pfizer and Moderna are willing to help the Philippines in ensuring that their COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy are preserved during storage

“Lahat ng vaccine manufacturers expressed willingness to have a long-term commitment with the Philippines. They are willing to divide supply mechanisms, looking at co-ownership on the responsibility. Tutulong po sila sa atin on how to preserve the efficacy and delivery to vaccination areas,” Galvez said.

“We will have an extensive supply agreement, and we will make sure we will prevent wastage,” he added.

The Philippines has recorded 487,690 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, January 10, 2021. Of this number, 458,198 recovered while 9,405 died. The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 20,087. — with Virgil Lopez/KBK/RSJ, GMA News