Galvez: PH’s ‘world class’ facility ready for cold storage of COVID-19 vaccines

The Philippines’ cold storage facilities are capable to receive coronavirus vaccines that need to be kept in below freezing temperature, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday, April 29.

Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine (Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Alam niyo po lahat ng inexpect po namin na cold storage natin, supply chain world standard po talaga iyan. At saka nakita natin na prepared na prepared na po tayo na either Moderna, Sputnik or Pfizer (You know, all the vaccines we expect to need cold storage, supply chain that’s world standard. And we can see that we are really prepared for either Moderna, Sputnik, or Pfizer),” he said during a virtual presser with Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

The Philippines' current inventory of COVID-19 vaccines is composed only of two brands: China’s Sinovac and the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca, both of which require only a temperature of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.

The country, however, expects to receive Gamaleya’s Sputnik V, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from May to June. The arrival of some 15,000 Sputnik V vaccines on May 1, Saturday, will be the first time the country will handle cold-storage vaccines. It is supposed to be a trial run.

Sputnik V requires -18 degrees Celsius while Moderna will need a storage facility of -25 degrees to -15 degrees Celsius. Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines’ storage requirement is a -80 degrees to -60 degrees Celsius facility.

Galvez revealed that the government entered into an end-to-end contract with the vaccine suppliers, which means that the manufacturers themselves will manage the delivery, storage, and delivery of the doses to the vaccination sites.

Moderna and Pfizer, he said, have an existing contract with pharmaceutical company Zuellig while Novovax is partnered with Unilab.

Galvez added that they did a site visit to Zuellig in February so he personally saw the “state-of-the-art” facility that can handle more than 100 million doses of vaccines that need 2 to 8 degrees Celsius temperature, 64 million for -20 degrees Celsius, and more than six million for -18 degrees Celsius.

“Iyong ating DOH nagkontrata sila ng third-party provider na may capability na negative 70, negative 80, negative 20, negative 18 at saka iyong 2 to 8. So kayang-kaya po natin iyan. Huwag kayong mabahala. Well prepared ang ating supply chain under kay Carole Taino (The DOH has a contract with a third-party provider with a capability for negative 70, negative 80, negative 20, negative 18, and 2 to 8. So, we are prepared for it. Don’t worry. Our supply chain is well-prepared under Carole Taino),” Galvez stressed.

PharmaServ Express is the official third-party partner of the Department of Health (DOH) for the storage and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines from the airport to cold-chain facility and to various vaccination centers in the country.

The company was responsible for storing more than two million doses of Sinovac in the past two months. Its cold storage facility is located in San Roque, Marikina City.

PharmaServ Express said it is ready for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines from Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and US’ Pfizer.

Galvez said the third-party providers will be answerable if the vaccines get spoiled while in storage.

But he is confident that the government’s third-party providers can handle the storage of the vaccines.

“Nakikita po natin maganda po iyong ating nagiging record ngayon. Wala po tayong narereport na mga spoilage. Karamihan pa nga po, mayroon pa ngang mga (We can see that we have a good record now. We have no reports of spoilage. Most of the vaccines, we have) additional doses because some vials have also some additional doses,” Galvez shared.