What happens when the Philippines gets fewer than the dosages it expects to receive as far as the incoming shipments of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is concerned?
Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla answered this question in a DZBB radio interview Sunday morning, Feb.28.
According to Maronilla, customs agents will first get an opportunity to count the number of vaccines received by the country from importers during then handling of the jabs at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.
“Pagdating po ng RITM nandun po mga customs officers namin para lang po tignan yung paglipat niya sa doon cold storage facility. Makikita na namin kung ilang boxes or ilang pieces per box yung laman para ma-confirm namin sa papeles na binigay sa amin (Our customs officers will be at the RITM to watch the transfer of the vaccines to the cold storage facility. We will see the number of boxes and how many pieces there are per box and from there we can confirm the figure on the papers given to us),” he said.
“Kung sakaling hindi mag-tally yung mga dokumento, bibigyan lang po namin ng pagkakataon yung importer na i-correct yung mistake na yun and at the same time inform yung FDA (Food and Drug Administration) na ito yung totoong numbers na dumating (In case the numbers don’t tally with the documents, we will just give the importer the opportunity to correct the mistake and at the same time inform the FDA as to the actual number of vaccines that arrived),” he explained.
Some 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines made by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. are expected to arrive Sunday. This will have been the first batch of jabs to arrive in the country.
On Monday, March 1, 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will be flown into the Philippines.
Maronilla said the same process would be observed for both vaccine brands.
He reiterated that the BOC has done advanced processing on the vaccines, which are considered government imports. This will allow the items to forego the usual process of opening the boxes for inspection and even x-ray examination.
“Hindi po pwedeng buksan yung shipment na ito, hindi rin po siya pwedeng idaan nga sa x-ray kahit ano klaseng examination (We aren’t allowed to open this shipment, and we can’t conduct x-ray or any type of examination on it),” he said.