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100,000 doses of vaccines destroyed in Zamboanga fire

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star
100,000 doses of vaccines destroyed in Zamboanga fire
The Police Regional Office-9 reported that the fire started Sunday night at the control motor for the water pump of the maintenance department and quickly engulfed the Red Cross, DOH and IPHO building.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — More than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were damaged when a fire hit the maintenance and supply area of the Department of Health (DOH) building Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) on Sunday night in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.

The Police Regional Office-9 reported that the fire started Sunday night at the control motor for the water pump of the maintenance department and quickly engulfed the Red Cross, DOH and IPHO building.

The smoke reached the upper floors that were adjacent to where the COVID-19 patients with moderate symptoms were staying. Twelve patients were reportedly evacuated to a nearby ward.

“About 100,000 of doses of vaccines were damaged because the fire started on the first floor of the provincial office where the cold storage and the vaccines were stored,” Dr. Joshua Brillantes, DOH-9 regional director said.

Based on reports, the fire destroyed some 9,176 AstraZeneca doses, 14,400 Moderna doses, 88,938 Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 36,164 Sinovac vaccines, as well as other routine vaccines such as those for hepatitis, measles, and polio.

According to Brillantes, National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez immediately committed to transport the needed doses of vaccines to sustain their inoculation program.

Probe

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would be called to investigate if there are indications of foul play in the fire, Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said yesterday.

“We will wait for the initial assessment of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). If there are any indications of foul play, I will request the NBI regional office to step in,” said Guevarra.

The BFP estimated the damage to be around P1.5 million. No casualty or injury was reported during the incident.

DOH Undersecretary and National Vaccine Operation Center head Myrna Cabotaje said they also want to know why there were still many vaccines stored at the Zamboanga del Sur provincial health office.

“It (fire) is beyond us, it’s force of nature. But why did they still have so many vaccines? Didn’t they moved them? We will look into that and see who are accountable,” she noted.

Cabotaje explained that under a memorandum issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, vaccines should be administered within three days after being received by local government units.

She said some of the vaccines are intended for Pagadian City and that most of it was supposed to be administered as second doses. – Evelyn Macairan, Sheila Crisostomo

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