MANILA— While authorities have secured funds for the COVID-19 vaccine, its importation and storage set-up remains a "challenge," Malacañang said Tuesday.
The potential coronavirus vaccine should be kept in a cold storage facility, where they would be frozen at around -90 degrees Celsius, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
The Philippines has only one such facility at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, he said.
The government should build more vaccine storage facilities or urge the private sector to invest in their construction, Roque said.
"Matindi rin iyong paghamon ‘pag lumabas na ang bakuna. Ngayon pa lang, ang talagang mensahe ni Presidente, maghanda na tayo— so iyong mga detalye, hindi lang iyong perang pambili," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(The challenge will be great when the vaccine comes out. The President has said we should prepare the details, not just the funds.)
"Ang challenge ngayon talaga e iyong storage saka iyong logistics ng pagpapdala rito ng gamot at saka iyong distribution network," he added.
(The challenge now really is the storage and logistics of sending the drug here and the distribution network.)
Russia is interested in building a pharmaceutical facility in the Philippines for its vaccine candidate Sputnik V, said Roque.
The Philippines initially allotted P2.5 billion to buy 40 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. If this is not enough, the government can take a loan from LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines, he said.
Priority will be given to the poorest Filipinos, frontliners, and state troops, he said.
"Huwag po tayong umasa na one day lahat tayo mai-immunize, masasaksakan kasi siyempre may pag-angkat iyan, may distribution iyan," Roque said.
(Don't expect that one day we'll all be immunized because the vaccine still has to be imported, distributed.)
"E kung ayuda nga po na P100 billion, mga 4 na buwan bago natin naibigay... Sa pag-immunize po, ganoon din iyan. Medyo may panahon po iyan na lilipas at hindi naman po iyan overnight," he added.
(Our P100 billion cash aid took around 4 months before it was fully distributed. With immunization, it will be the same. It will take some time and it won't be overnight.)
The Philippines recorded on Monday 2,638 new coronavirus infections and 26 additional deaths. Total confirmed cases climbed to 359,169, while the death toll rose to 6,675, the health department said in a bulletin. Total recoveries increased to 310,303, it said. - With a report from Reuters