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Rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in CV this February: DOH

THE Philippine government is set to rollout the COVID-19 vaccines in the latter part of February, said Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

In a press release to Cebu Business Week, Vergeire made the disclosure during the Mugstoria Ta, an online conversation hosted by Assistant Secretary Anthony Gerard ‘Jonji’ Gonzales of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.

According to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, 117,000 Pfizer vaccines are expected by second or third week of February, the health official disclosed.

Meanwhile, DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas said his office has an existing cold storage facility at two to eight degree Celsius with a capacity of up to 3.5 million COVID vaccines

To accommodate COVID vaccines that need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, DOH 7 and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) are each acquiring freezers capable of minus 80 degrees Celsius. The VSMMC is a designated COVID hospital.

Pfizer vaccines need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius while Moderna vaccines can be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, the Astra-Zeneca vaccines have to be kept at two to eight degrees Celsius.

Bernadas said the VSMMC freezer, which has a capacity of 400,000 vaccines at minus 80 degrees Celsius, will be delivered on Monday or Tuesday. The DOH 7 freezer with a similar capacity will also arrive next week to provide redundancy capacity, he added

Bernadas also disclosed that a simulation exercise for the vaccination rollout will be conducted on February 10. The activity, which includes Cebu and Davao, will be in preparation for the rollout of the vaccines from the national hub to the regional hub.

Vergeire also gave assurance over the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines that will be used in the country’s vaccination program. She assured the public that the COVID-19 vaccines to be used under the Emergency Use Authority (EUA) and the clinical trials underwent very rigid processes to ensure the safety and efficacy

The current vaccines, she said, reduce the risk of severe disease and risk of death, and are most suited for those with higher risk of exposure and death.

Currently, Pfizer and AstraZeneca have already been granted with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their eventual public roll-out in the country. Those who received EUAs have gone through stringent scientific and regulatory processes to verify their safety and efficacy.

There are three other vaccine makers that have applied for EUA and are now being processed, Vergeire said./ PR/ELIAS O. BAQUERO