Duterte: National recovery 'within sight' as COVID-19 vaccines expected to arrive
President Rodrigo Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10 , 2020.
Presidential Photo/Joey Dalumpines

Duterte: National recovery 'within sight' as COVID-19 vaccines expected to arrive

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 14, 2021 - 4:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the continuous rise in COVID-19 infections, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Thursday that national recovery is "within sight" as vaccines are expected to arrive in the Philippines soon because of the efforts of the national government, local executives and the private sector.

Duterte thanked the business community and local governments for working with his administration to forge deals for the purchase of COVID-19 shots and urged them to help ensure a safe, sure, and secure roll-out of the national immunization program.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel. National recovery is within sight. As we bounce back and heal as one, I commend the business community and the LGUs (local government units) for your ramping up support for our nation’s fight against COVID-19," Duterte said in a pre-recorded video message played during the signing of a tripartite deal for the purchase of AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

"We now have the weapon to defeat this virus, the vaccine and let us win the war and save lives and livelihoods," he added.

Duterte said the tripartite deal, which is under Go Negosyo's "A Dose of Hope" project, was a "true showcase of unity, of purpose and principled partnership benefitting our public."

"Let us reaffirm our vow to ourselves and renew our guarantee to our people. From approval to vaccine administration, the health and safety of every Filipino is always at the center," he said.

"This is bayanihan at work. To everyone involved in the 'A Dose of Hope' Project, I congratulate you on this achievement. To all who help and continue to grow this tripartite partnership, thank you very much."

The signing of the agreement, which would bring another three million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Philippines, was the second wave of "A Dose of Hope” project. The first wave secured 2.6 million vaccines doses.

"This initiative is not only ‘A Dose of Hope’, but a pound of inspiration that will help us realize our collective goal of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos this year," COVID-19 national policy chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

"With your continued support, we will be able to identify, validate, and respond to the needs of our priority beneficiaries,” he added.

Also present during the signing were Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Philippines Inc. country president Lotis Ramin, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, British Ambassador Daniel Pruce and about 300 private sector donors.

Cold storage facilities

During a meeting of the government's pandemic task force last Wednesday, officials assured Duterte that the Philippines has cold storage facilities for the COVID-19 vaccines to be delivered.

Galvez said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has minus 20 degrees Celsius and minus 70 degrees Celsius cold storage facilities. He said Zuellig and other pharmaceutical firms have also bought mobile freezers that can store about 100,000 vaccine vials.

"Manila has the capability to preserve millions of vials. Davao and Cebu also have the capability. That's the limitation because we can only deploy Pfizer and Moderna (vaccines) in those areas," Galvez said.

Galvez said the storage facilities are enough because the Pfizer vaccines, which have to be stored in sub-zero temperatures, would arrive by tranches each composed of about 100,000 vials.

"We will synchronize so that when they (Pfizer vaccines) arrive, we would deploy them immediately," he added.

Galvez said military logistics units can also help in the vaccine rollout. Members of the private sector like the Pangilinan, Ayala, and Aboitiz groups and Unilab are also providing supply chain managers to assist the government in its vaccination efforts.

"We can do it because of the cooperation of the private sector and the public sector," Galvez said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his agency is finishing documents for the tapping of a third-party logistics provider, which will handle the brokerage, storage, warehousing, hauling, and distribution of vaccines.

"We can handle this, regardless of the temperature requirement," Duque said.

Duque said the agency has imported ten ultra low freezers or those with temperatures of minus 70 to 80 degrees Celsius that can be repurposed for vaccine use. He said each freezer can accommodate 550 liters of vaccines.

Duterte thanked the groups helping the government in its vaccination program, saying their deeds would always be remembered.

"We cannot remember everybody mentioned but I just would like to thank you. It’s a big deal really for...you to be conscious also of the problem and trying to give a helping hand. We will remember you after this. And more importantly, God will...always be conscious of what you are doing," the president said. 

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