The Department of Health (DOH) plans to put up four cold storage facilities and two walk-in freezers in Metro Manila
Metro Manila will be the central storage hub for COVID-19 vaccines
Bicol, Cebu, and Zamboanga also eyed as cold chain hubs
Talks with the private sector on helping the government establish cold storage facilities across the country are ongoing
The Department of Health (DOH) plans to put up four cold storage facilities and two walk-in freezers in Metro Manila, as the metropolis will become the central hub for the storage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in the country.
“[Our plan right now is to have four] cold storage rooms [and two] walk-in freezers [in] Metro Manila because this will be the central hub of all vaccines,” DOH undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino at a virtual press briefing on December 11.
Vergeire said DOH is also planning to establish cold chain hubs in other strategic areas in the country for storing the vaccines prior to distribution to facilities. DOH is looking to have one cold storage each in Bicol, Cebu, and Zamboanga.
She said talks with the private sector on the assistance it can provide in establishing cold storage facilities across the country are ongoing.
The DOH official earlier said they are eyeing putting up cold storage facilities nationwide, ideally in every region, to ensure enough proper storage for COVID-19 vaccines.
Cold storage facilities are used to ensure medicines maintain their effectiveness when rolled out for delivery.
Vergeire said the type of cold storage facility needed will depend on the type of SARS-Cov 2 vaccine to be approved. Different SARS-Cov 2 vaccines have varying cold storage requirements, from ultra-low temperature conditions of about -70 degrees to the usual temperature used for cold storage.
DOH is currently using the storage facility of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as the national vaccine storage facility.
Vergeire noted that aside from COVID-19 vaccines, other existing vaccines used in the country also need storage facilities.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a media briefing on December 10 said the Philippines will be getting its supply of COVID-19 vaccines starting next year from three manufacturers—Sinovac Biotech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Pfizer-BioNTech.
Roque said the earliest possible inoculation program in the country is expected to use China’s Sinovac vaccine, while Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines will come in the second or third quarter of 2021.
Meanwhile, a tripartite agreement was signed last month between the private sector, the pharma company AstraZeneca, and the British government on the provision of 2.6 million doses of vaccines to the Philippines.
SARS-Cov 2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.