MANILA - Local government units (LGUs) and private companies that have entered into tripartite agreements for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines were told to observe national government-set vaccine cold storage standards and not just resort to their own refrigeration measures.
National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. told senators during hearing on Friday that the the cold storage chain has to remain intact to prevent wastage of the vaccines.
“We are firming up the supply agreement with the pharmaceutical companies… so that the supply agreement will ensure that the handover of the vaccine from the airport will not break the chain of the required temperature,” Galvez said.
“Before the vaccines will be coming here, we will make sure that even the LGUs we have established it (vaccine cold storage facility) should even be accredited as pharma-grade,” he added.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III meanwhile said his department is engaging the association of cold storage facility providers and pharma-grade third party logistics providers.
“Hindi naman po pwedeng basta-basta lang na cold storage facility, may standards po, so naka-set na po standards sa amin pong supply chain management office,” he said.
Duque said breaking the cold storage chain can result in spoiling or weakened efficacy of the vaccine.
Zuellig Pharma Philippines, a top pharma-grade logistics provider, also explained to senators that vaccines cannot be kept in just “any freezer”.
“Our recommendation is to use the pharma-grade…. it provides redundancy. You cannot afford that your freezer will lose power, you cannot afford that the vaccine is mixed with food or it will get contaminated,” Zuellig Pharma Philippines chief business officer Jannette Jakosalem said.
Certified pharma-grade cold storage facilities are checked periodically by state regulators, she added.
Several COVID-19 vaccines currently under development and pending completion of Phase-3 clinical trials have different cold storage requirements to maintain efficacy.
For example, US-based Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, while China's CoronaVac can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius.