GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 August) – The city government is working on leasing cold chain facilities of the private sector here to accommodate COVID-19 vaccines that require storage at low temperatures.
Lawyer Arnel Zapatos, the city administrator, said Tuesday they have started the bidding process for the lease or rental of ultra-low temperature freezers owned by a local company to expand its vaccine storage.
He said the undisclosed firm made an offer to the local government last month for the use of its freezers, which could reportedly handle the required temperature storage of Pfizer-BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccines.
The Department of Health (DOH) said in an earlier advisory that Pfizer vaccines require storage within temperatures of between -80 and -60 degrees Celsius using an ultra-cold freezer.
“We have available facilities here that can handle that so we will no longer purchase the freezers but will just rent them,” Zapatos said in an interview over the Radio Mindanao Network.
The city council approved a funding of P30 million under the supplemental budget number 1 last February for the preparation of the required cold chain facilities for COVID-19 vaccine storage.
Zapatos said the private sector has been continually helping the local government in meeting the storage requirement for the vaccines.
He said the St. Elizabeth Hospital, which is operated by the Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings Inc., has allowed the city to store other brands of vaccines in its cold chain facility.
This includes Russia’s Sputnik V, which requires temperature storage of -18 degrees Celsius as advised by the DOH.
The official said the RD Foundation Inc. has donated two additional ice-lined refrigerators for the use of the main cold chain facility at the city gymnasium in Barangay Lagao.
The city is currently using three freezers earlier provided by DOH-12 in line with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination.
“We are enhancing the capacity of our main cold chain to accommodate Sputnik V and other vaccines that are not much sensitive,” Zapatos said.
The city government has expanded its COVID-19 vaccination activities in the past three weeks due to the increased allocation of vaccines from the national government composed of Sinovac’s CoronaVac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen.
The inoculation currently covers individuals under priority groups A1 (front-line health workers), A1.8 (outbound overseas workers), A2 (senior citizens), A3 (persons with comorbidities), and A4 (essential workers). [MindaNews]