MANILA— The inter-agency task force leading the country's pandemic response has formed a group that would lead the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, Malacañang said Friday.
The IATF, which met Thursday, created the COVID-19 Immunization Program Management Organizational Structure that would be led by the health department, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Laging Handa press briefing.
"The DOH has been directed to immediately convene the Task Group COVID-19 Immunization Management and establish sub-task groups as necessary," he said in a separate statement.
"The creation of a Task Force is to ensure the successful and efficient deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to target population," he added.
Around 200 vaccine candidates are under development, of which some are in Phase III clinical trials – the final step before a vaccine is approved, said the United Nations. The body estimates some vaccines will be approved for use in 2021.
Roque earlier said that while authorities have secured funds for the COVID-19 vaccine, its importation and storage setup remains a "challenge."
The potential coronavirus vaccine should be kept in a cold storage facility, where they would be frozen at around -90 degrees Celsius. The Philippines has only one such facility at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, he said.
The health department on Thursday recorded 1,761 new coronavirus infections and 33 more deaths. In a bulletin, the agency said total confirmed infections had risen to 376,935, while deaths had reached 7,147.
New COVID-19 cases in the Philippines increased by fewer than 2,000 in 7 of the last 10 days. - With a report from Reuters