Arrival of Russian vaccine pushed back to April 28; Roque says it’s a ‘trial order'

The arrival of some 15,000 Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines from Russia on Wednesday, April 28, will be a trial run because of the vaccines’ storage requirement, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

During his Monday’s virtual press briefing, the Palace official hinted that the -20 degrees Celsius storage requirement may be the reason why the arrival of the vaccines did not push through last Sunday, April 25.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said that the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia’s The Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology require -18 degrees Celsius.

“I suppose it has something to do with the cold storage handling at kaya nga po maliit lang muna trial order muna tayo dahil titingnan natin kung paano ihahandle (and that’s why the first arrival is a small batch trial order because we will see how we can handle it),” Roque said.

This will be the first time the Philippines will handle vaccines that need a cold storage facility. Both Sinovac and AstraZeneca, which the country currently uses, need to be stored only in normal storage facilities between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.

The DOH earlier said that Sputnik V will not be distributed to all regions because of the storage requirement. Instead, only local government units (LGU) with the capacity for cold storage facility will receive the doses.

Sputnik V already has an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—a pre-requisite to distribution and use in the country. It has a 92 percent efficacy rate in trials and 100 percent against severe COVID cases.

Roque said that some 500,000 doses of China’s Sinovac will also be delivered on Thursday, April 29, as part of the vaccine procurement program of the Philippines.

He also reported that the country will only get four million Novavax vaccines because the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures American pharmaceutical giant Novavax vaccines, can only commit 40 million doses.

India is experiencing an unprecedented surge in new COVID-19 cases. It recorded a million cases in three days, with some 2,624 dying on Saturday alone.