Gov’t needs additional cold storage facilities starting August – Duque

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday the government needs third party logistics providers to increase the capacity for COVID-19 vaccines starting August.

During the House Committee on Health’s hearing on the government’s vaccination road map, Duque said currently available facilities could only store vaccines that would arrive until July.

“Starting August 2021 to December 2021, kinakailanagn na po natin ng karagdagang storage capacity. Dito po papasok ang ating third party logistics provider para mapuno po ‘yung puwang,” Duque said.

Duque added the Department of Health is in talks with third-party logistics providers that could manage, store, and distribute the vaccines.

The Philippines would need cold storage facilities with 2 to 8 °C, -16 to -20 °C, and -70 to -80 °C.

Duque said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and some regional hubs already have storage facilities with 2 to 8 °C and -16 to -20 degrees.

“They can store the vaccines from February to July of this year,” he said.

Due to the limited capacity, third-party logistics providers would store COVID-19 vaccines that would arrive for the rest of the year.

“Mula August hangang December 2021, muli kukuha na naman po tayo ng mga third party logistic provider para po ma-accommodate ‘yung ating mga bakuna,’ he said.

Gov’t needs additional cold storage facilities starting August – Duque

Duque said five units of ultra-low temperature freezers in RITM can accommodate over 1.4 million doses of vaccines that require -70 to -80 °C storage temperature.

The DOH is still studying to repurpose five more units of ultra-low freezers.

“Hindi na po tayo maghahantay ng August. Ngayon pa lang po ay ginagawa na po namin nang pro-active at several steps ahead for ensuring an effective and successful rollout plan,” Duque added.

Last week, DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said that deciding what vaccines can be sent to cities and remote areas will be based on storage requirements and not on efficacy rates.

“Kung ang requirement natin highly technical logistical requirement, like for example those requiring ultra-low freezer, ito’y hindi talaga natin mailalagay sa far-flung areas.”

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez previously said that vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech that need ultra-cold storage cannot be shipped to remote areas.