The 15,000 trial-order doses of Russia-made Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 will be given to five local government units in Metro Manila, an official of the Department of Heath said Sunday.
In an interview on "Dobol B TV," Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said the five cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) were chosen because they have "appropriate" cold storage facility for the Sputnik V vaccine.
She said the five cities are Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Manila, and Parañaque, which will get 3,000 doses each of the vaccine.
"Mayroon silang (five chosen cities) cold-chain ready facility na mag fit (that is desirable)," said Cabotaje, adding that Sputnik V needs to be stored in a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius.
"'Pag nilabas mo sa -18 degrees, may ilang oras lang 'yan na puwedeng gamitin. 'Pag hindi na nagamit 'yan, masasayang... Dapat hindi ka naglalabas ng hindi mo magagamit," she said in a separate report on GMA's "24 Oras Weekend."
(If you bring the vaccines out of -18 degrees storage, they will only have a shelf life of a couple of hours and will be wasted if unused. You should not bring out what you will not be using.)
Also, Cabotaje said simulations for the vaccines will be conducted by the Parañaque City government in partnership with the private sector with 2,000 doses targeted to be administered on Monday, May 3.
"Kasi ang target population natin 'yung senior citizens, lalo na medyo mainit for them," said City Health Officer Dr. Olga Virtusio.
(Our target population is the senior citizens and we considered the heat.)
Further, Cabotaje said the Makati City LGU has partnered with Makati Medical Center to deploy the vaccines.
The local government has installed freezers and coolers inside the Makati Coliseum which serves as the city's vaccination center.
"Gumawa po kami ng sistema na hindi namin tatanggalin sa bio ref 'yung mga vaccine hanggat wala po 'yung mga pagbibigyan or hindi pa napaprocess sa loob 'yung pagbibigyan ng bakuna," said Dr. Roy Unson, Makati City health officer.
(We established a system where we will not take out vaccines from the bio ref until the individuals to be inoculated are not yet in the area or have yet to be processed.)
Makati targets to start vaccinating residents with the Sputnik V doses on Tuesday, May 4.
The rest of the vaccination centers will be in the Santa Ana Hospital for Manila City and the Lakeshore in Taguig.
On the other hand, Cabotaje noted that Sputnik V can be administered to Filipinos ages 18 and above. She said there were no side effects reported from other countries, so far.
Sputnik V's second dose must be given 21 days after the first shot was injected, Cabotaje added.
Asked when the remaining 485,000 Sputnik V doses will arrive, Cabotaje said: "It will depend on the vaccine availability and shipping logistics." The national government earlier said that it expects the remaining batches of Sputnik V to be delivered this May.
Moreover, Cabotaje said the ordered doses would be sent in batches to allow Russia to study the country's vaccine deployment process.
"They sent small doses first because they want to know how we administer their vaccines so that the drugs won't be wasted," Cabotaje said in Filipino.
On Saturday, the plane carrying the trial-order doses of Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute vaccine landed in Manila. Its arrival was delayed twice due to logistical concerns.
Meanwhile, Sputnik V's importation has recently been flagged by a Brazilian health regulator's technical staff over "critical issues" on its efficacy rate and safety.
But earlier, the Philippine FDA said Sputnik V has a 91% efficacy rate.
Pressed on the status of the overall national vaccination rollout, Cabotaje, citing latest available data, said that 1.8 million Filipinos have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of April 28.
But the number may have already reached two million today. However, she admitted that vaccination is "constrained" by low vaccine supply.
For its part, the Department of Health (DOH) said the first batch of vaccines will be a trial run for the Philippines, as the Russian manufacturer will be looking at how the country implements the vaccination of the doses given its sensitivity.
"Kaya nga 15,000 lang 'yung dumating ngayon is mabibigyan tayo ng opportunity na ma-practice ito nang maayos para 'pag dating ng malakihan, okay na okay na tayo, na-practice na natin sa maliit na quantity," said Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, Director IV of the Field Implementation and Coordination Team.
(Only 15,000 arrived today to give us a chance to practice this properly so when the large shipments arrive, we will be okay as we practiced it on a small scale.)
—LBG, GMA News