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National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (2nd from right) and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (2nd from left) visit Unilab Pharma Campus's facility in Bi%uFFFDan, Laguna on Wednesday (Jan. 20, 2021) / PNA

Gov't inspects cold storage facilities

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Government officials began the inspection of the cold storage facilities of a pharmaceutical firm in Biñan, Laguna on Wednesday morning in preparation for the arrival of coronavirus vaccines in the country next month, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

Chief implementer of the National Policy Against Covid-19 and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and other National Task Force Against Covid-19 officials visited Unilab Pharma Campus' facility, checking its readiness to keep and distribute the vaccines.

As the country prepares for the arrival of vaccines, which need to be stored at low temperatures, the government has asked groups with cold storage facilities to be ready to help.

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During the event, Unilab, Inc. senior vice president for social partnerships Jose Maria Ochave said the company is helping out the government but does not have any plan to expand its warehouse to accommodate the vaccines.

"We're doing this with the government because this is really a service that we're doing for the government. We'll help them because our interest really is to get the public back on its feet. That's where our business is, to get the country back on its feet," Ochave said. "Kasi itong warehouse na ito ay hindi business ng Unilab (Because this warehouse is not the business of Unilab). This is for our own products. We don't do it for other third parties."

In his speech, Unilab, Inc. Director Albert Allan Alcruz said the firm's cold storage facility could accommodate five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines at any one time while consistently maintaining the temperature at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius.

However, the total number of doses that can be accommodated in a month will depend on the length of time the vaccines need to be stored in the facility before being transferred to vaccination sites.

"Our facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that can consistently maintain the right temperature of sensitive products, such as vaccines, at all times, even in the event of a power outage," Alcruz said.

Galvez noted that because Unilab's cold storage facility maintains its temperature at 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius, it could store Novavax, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines.

"Pfizer and Moderna will be placed in an ultra cold storage, probably RITM (the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) and Zuellig," he added.

In the same briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the ocular inspection is part of the end-to-end supply system – the arrival of the products from the manufacturing companies, the entry of products into designated storage facilities, preparation for distribution, delivery logistics, and delivery to vaccination sites.

"We need to see with our two eyes and our technical people that the standards are maintained all throughout," Duque said.


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