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Home3PL/4PLPCCI seeks gov’t tie-up for ‘herculean task’ of COVID vaccine logistics

PCCI seeks gov’t tie-up for ‘herculean task’ of COVID vaccine logistics

  • The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is calling for public-private partnership to ensure success in the transport and storage of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines
  • Currently, the country has no cold chain infrastructure that can handle COVID-19 vaccines which require meticulous handling and sub-zero cold chain facilities
  • PCCI is consulting with industry players in the cold chain and supply chain businesses, transport, and power generation sectors to step up readiness of cold storage infrastructure and delivery logistics for the vaccine 
  • Consultations are also being conducted with local chambers on possible vaccination centers where these facilities may be put up

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) is calling for a partnership between the public and private sector to ensure success in the transport and storage of COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines.

“We need dedicated transport service and storage spaces to keep the integrity of the vaccines. These require massive investment and coordination, a herculean task that cannot be done by government alone,” PCCI president Benedicto V. Yujuico said in a statement.

Yujuico noted there is currently no cold chain infrastructure in the country that can handle COVID-19 vaccines that require meticulous handling and sub-zero cold chain facilities.

“There are no facilities in the country that can handle -80°C. The lowest temperature our cold storage facilities can go down to is -20°C to 25°C. The same is true for refrigerated trucks,” Yujuico said.

Cold storage facilities and refrigerated trucks in the country also handle mixed cargo such as fish, meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Yujuico noted the danger of vaccines being contaminated if co-stored in these facilities.

Yujuico said PCCI is already consulting with industry players in the cold chain and supply chain businesses, transport (airfreight, shipping and trucking), and power generation, and is conducting an inventory of facilities to step up the readiness of cold storage infrastructure and delivery logistics for the vaccine.

PCCI is likewise consulting with its local chambers on possible vaccination centers where these facilities may be put up.

The group said government partnership will entice private sector investment in the cold chain delivery system.

Plans for cold storages

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said it 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 COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

READ: DOH eyes vaccine cold storages in every region

DOH undersecretary Maria Rosario 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.

Vergeire said talks with the private sector on assisting in the establishment of cold storage facilities across the country are ongoing.

The DOH official earlier said they are eyeing cold storage facilities nationwide, ideally in every region, to ensure proper storage for COVID-19 vaccines.

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°C to the usual temperature used for cold storage.

SARS-Cov 2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, was first detected in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

DOH is currently using the storage facility of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as the national vaccine storage facility.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier said the Philippines was not yet ready for the logistical challenges of handling millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses by January 2021, especially Pfizer’s vaccines as they require temperatures of about -75°C and can be stored in a refrigerator for only up to five days before they expire.

The Philippines is currently in talks with various vaccine manufacturers in different countries to secure vaccine doses.

These include China’s Sinovac Biotech, Britain’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, the United States’ Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc.-Arcturus Therapeutics, Russia’s Gamaleya, and Serum Institute of India’s Novavax.

In addition, the Philippines has requested the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax Facility, a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers, to ensure the COVID-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need.

WHO last December 19 announced that the Covax Facility had secured 2 billion doses for 190 countries, including the Philippines. – Roumina Pablo

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