MANILA - Authorities are considering the use of EDSA bus lanes in transporting COVID-19 vaccines for a more "seamless" delivery of the critical vials, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Benhur Abalos said Saturday.
This, a day before the expected arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese firm Sinovac, which are set to be transported from the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the Department of Health's medical facility in Marikina and the Veteran's Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
In a public press briefing, Abalos said they are considering using EDSA's innermost lanes, which are exclusive for buses and emergency vehicles, or the lanes beside them to make transport faster. Speedy transport is crucial in ensuring quality of the vaccines, which require consistent cold temperatures.
"Puwede natin gamitin ang bus carousel at kung hindi naman, ‘yung katabi mismo ng bus carousel," Abalos said.
(We can use the bus carousel or if not, the lanes beside the bus carousel itself.)
The vaccines, the first expected to arrive in the Philippines, will be transported through six 40-foot container vans.
Police and MMDA enforcers who will escort the vans are "ready," according to Abalos. Towing and emergency vehicles will also be on standby.
The MMDA will also enforce the same setup when the next batch of vaccines arrive, such as those from Pfizer and AstraZeneca through the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization, and the doses government have secured through deals.
Abalos said the route for the Sinovac vaccine transport has been set but did not give details. He reminded motorists to steer clear in case they see the vaccine convoy.
"'Pag makita ang convoy please tumabi kayo," Abalos said.
(When you see the convoy, please move away.)
The government on Sunday, February 28, is set to receive 600,000 doses of the Coronavac COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac, the first batch to arrive in the country and are allocated for soldiers and health workers.
Medical frontliners have, however, expressed reservations on using the vaccine for its reported lower efficacy rating than other brands such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
The Philippines, which has Southeast Asia's second highest number of COVID-19 cases, has lagged behind its regional neighbors in launching its mass COVID-19 inoculation drive.
The government targets vaccinating up to 70 million people or two-thirds of the population for 2021 to achieve herd immunity.