Pfizer vaccine distribution being done equitably, says Roque

Published May 28, 2021, 2:27 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is not giving some places the preferential treatment in the allocation of the popular coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, Malacañang clarified Friday, May 28.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that the allocation of US-made vaccines to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao was done equitably, due to their capacity to meet Pfizer’s extreme cold storage requirements.

“Well, talaga pong ang Pfizer ay binibigay lang sa Metro Manila, Metro Cebu at Metro Davao kasi ito lang po iyong mga lugar na mayroong subzero facilities na kinakailangan ng Pfizer. So wala pong preferential treatment iyan (Pfizer is distributed to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao because these places have sub-zero facilities needed by Pfizer. There is no preferential treatment there),” Roque said over government television Friday, May 28.

“Reyalidad lang po ‘no na talagang Pfizer was made for first world conditions requiring -40 po yata iyan ‘no, na storage facilities. So talagang Manila, Cebu at Davao po ang destinasyon ng Pfizer – sa ngayon (It’s just the reality that Pfizer was really made in first world conditions requiring negative 40 I think in storage facilities so Manila, Cebu and Davao are the destinations of Pfizer for now),” he added.

The country has so far received 193,0050 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility. The bulk of the shots had been allocated to Metro Manila, Cebu City, and Davao City. Additional 2 million Pfizer doses are expected to be delivered to the country next month.

The Pfizer vaccines, which has shown 95 percent effective, must reportedly be stored at ultra-cold temperatures of around -70 degrees Celsius. In February, the company proposed a label update that the shots could safely be kept at typical freezer temperatures -25 to -15 degrees Celsius for two weeks.

President Duterte recently ordered authorities to distribute Pfizer vaccines to the indigent population after expressing dismay with the preference of some people for the western brand. Duterte said the vaccines must be distributed at vaccination centers in communities with low vaccine uptake instead of shopping malls.

READ: Duterte hits bias for Pfizer vaccines

The President also discouraged Filipinos from becoming “selective” with the vaccine brands, adding they cannot just simply demand Pfizer shots since the country does not have enough supply of these drugs. He also directed authorities to ensure the equitable distribution of all vaccine brands, saying it will just be a matter of luck to get Pfizer from the government’s vaccine mix.

The country has so far over 8 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, mostly jabs developed by China’s Sinovac. The government noticed the bias towards the Pfizer jabs after people crowded the vaccination centers offering the American-made vaccines.

READ: Duterte orders equitable distribution of COVID vaccines