Davao City has no ultra-cold chain storage facility for COVID-19 vaccines

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Feb) – The City Government of Davao has no available ultra-cold chain storage facility that can house the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines that are expected to arrive here later this month, Mayor Sara Duterte said on Monday.

During her live program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Duterte said that the city lacks cold storage facilities that can meet the requirement of vaccines that need extremely cold temperatures similar to Pfizer and Moderna.

The COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the US-based Pfizer-BionTech requires a cold storage facility that can support -70 degrees Celsius, while Moderna’s need to be stored from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius for 30 days and -20 degrees Celsius for up to six months.

She said existing cold storage facilities of the local government are intended for polio and measles.

City Health Office acting head Dr. Ashley Lopez, who is also COVID-19 focal person for the City Government of Davao, announced earlier that the city is set to receive initial doses of Pfizer.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last January 14 that it granted the application for emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine. Phase 3 clinical trials showed its vaccines have an efficacy of 95%.

“Our City Heath Office is prepared for regular vaccination [of measles and polio] because they’ve seen it many times over already. What they are not prepared is for the immunization using those two vaccines which need cold storage requirements that are not available not only in Davao City but also in the entire Davao Region,” Duterte said.

But the mayor believed that the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already factored in the lack of cold storage facilities here before it rolls out the vaccination program in the city by the end of this month.

“If they will send vaccines, it should already be incorporated in their plan where to store the vaccines,” she added.

She said that the local government is also willing to procure cold storage facilities if needed.

Duterte said she has yet to know how many doses have been allocated for the city.

She said the Davao City COVID-19 Task Force has been directed to coordinate with the Department of Health and IATF-EID for the rollout of vaccination program.

She said the initial COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving this month will be intended for health care workers of the public and private hospitals and allied medical institutions.

Duterte said the City Government of Davao will procure AZD1222, the vaccine jointly developed by the British firm AstraZeneca with Oxford University. The local government has initiated talks with Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to procure additional vaccines.

As of January 31, the Department of Health (DOH) Davao reported 181 new cases in the region, bringing the total to 17,373 with 2,849 active, 13,831 recoveries, and 703 deaths.

Out of the total, Davao City reported 11,662, with 9,562 recoveries, and 548 deaths. Davao de Oro reported 924, Davao del Norte with 2,456, Davao del Sur with 1,218, Davao Occidental with 192, and Davao Oriental with 921. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)