With the financing and distribution schemes for the potential coronavirus vaccine in place, the government has shifted its focus to preparing for the safe importation and cold storage of the life-saving drugs in the country.

ROQUE 3 - Gov’t readies logistical requirements of forthcoming vaccine importation
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte has directed authorities to make the necessary logistics preparations for the shipment of the expected COVID-19 vaccine during a meeting with several Cabinet officials on Monday, according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

There might be a need to build more cold storage facilities for the vaccines due to the government’s limited resources, Roque added.

“Inaayos na po ngayon iyong mga issues such as logistics para ipaparating dito, saan i-store dahil ang storage po niya ay negative 90 pala ang kinakailangan  (We are now addressing the issues such as logistics to bring the vaccines here, where to store them because the storage requires a temperature of negative 90 degrees Celsius),” he said during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

On the distribution of the vaccine, Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III mentioned the government has sufficient experience in implementing the vaccination drive for measles and other illnesses.

“So sanay na sanay na tayo sa actual distribution at pagtuturok. Ang pinaghahandaan po natin talaga is iyong logistics, pag-import kasi specialized po ang transportation nito, negative 90 at saka iyong storage ‘no pagdating po dito sa Pilipinas (We are used to the actual distribution and vaccination. What we’re really preparing for is the logistics, the importation because it requires specialized transportation. It also requires a storage of negative 90 when it reaches the Philippines),” he added.

Roque said the challenging task of logistics preparations for the coronavirus vaccine was tackled during the President’s meeting last Monday.

Citing information from Duque, he said the country has only one storage facility with a temperature of minus 90 degrees at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. He said the government might have to build massive vaccine storage facilities or encourage the private sector to invest in the construction of these structures.

“Talagang matindi rin iyong paghamon ‘pag lumabas na ang bakuna at ngayon pa lang ang talagang mensahe ni Presidente maghanda na tayo ‘no. So iyong mga detalye hindi lang iyong perang pambili. (It will really be a huge challenge once the vaccine becomes available. The President’s message is really for us to prepare the details not just the funds for the vaccine purchase),” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

Under the government plan, Roque said the Philippine International Trading Corp (PITC), a state firm attached to the Department of Trade and Industry, will purchase the COVID-19 vaccines. The funds for the vaccine procurement will be provided by the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.

Under the proposed 2021 national budget, the government has allocated an initial P2.5 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

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