Pfizer vaccines to be distributed in NCR, Davao, Cebu
Picture of vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 taken as elderly people are being inoculated amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, at the Carlos A Mendoza school in San Miguelito neighborhood in Panama City on March 4, 2021.
AFP/Luis Acosta, file

Pfizer vaccines to be distributed in NCR, Davao, Cebu

Rudy Santos, Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The 193,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines expected to arrive last night will be distributed in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the cities of Davao and Cebu, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, Pfizer vaccines have “really high technical” requirements for storage and distribution and will therefore be given to local government units (LGUs) that have the capacity to meet the requirements.

“We have already proven, based on simulation activities, that they can handle ultra low freezer and the handling, thus we can prevent wastages,” Vergeire said.

The first batch from US-German team Pfizer-BioNTech was scheduled to arrive at 9:30 p.m. yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 2 on Air Hong Kong flight LD457 from Denmark, via Hong Kong.

The 193,050 Pfizer vaccine doses donated by Unicef of Denmark are part of the 1.3 million doses earmarked for the country through the COVAX Facility. It was supposed to be delivered back in February but got delayed due to tight supply.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that after the arrival of Pfizer doses, government would initiate a “mini-roll-out” to help prepare for succeeding deliveries, noting that the vaccines must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius.

“Our LGUs in NCR are prepared (to receive the Pfizer vaccines) and we are also looking at Davao and Cebu,” Galvez said.

Earlier, Galvez said the country “will have good volumes this coming May” as he confirmed the arrival of more Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs.

Of the more than two million AstraZeneca doses that arrived in the country last Saturday, Vergeire said majority would be allotted to NCR Plus areas.

Based on DOH data, NCR gets 501,600 doses while Central Luzon and Calabarzon are allocated 261,600 and 254,400 shots, respectively.

EUA for Sinopharm

Malacañang yesterday expressed confidence that the granting of emergency use application (EUA) to Chinese vaccine maker Sinopharm by Philippine regulators would be fast-tracked because of the approval issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Over the weekend, the WHO has issued an EUA and the secretary of DOH has spoken that the DOH itself will apply for the EUA. I think the process can be fast-tracked because of the WHO pronouncement on Sinopharm. The issuance of the EUA to Sinopharm here in our country may be hastened,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Vergeire said that DOH is finalizing Sinopharm’s EUA application, which would be filed with the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We need to complete the dossiers of Sinopharm so that we can process the application of EUA. We are not going to represent any manufacturer for that matter,” she said.

“This is the pathway that we are looking at for Sinopharm. Instead of manufacturers, it is the government applying for the EUA. It is something that we do so we can facilitate the process of getting the vaccine,” she added, noting that DOH previously applied for the EUA of donated vaccines acquired through COVAX.

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