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Logistical issues to delay delivery of Pfizer shots — Roque

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THE COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, led by the World Health Organization, gave notice of potential delay in the delivery of Pfizer vaccines due to logistical issues, the Palace said on Thursday.

Citing the COVAX interim distribution forecast, Presidential Spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said, “Baka nga po magkaroon ng pagkaantala pag-deliver ng Pfizer dahil nga po doon sa requirement na (There might be a delay in the delivery of Pfizer because of the requirement for) sub-zero transportation at  (and) logistics ng Pfizer,” he said in a televised briefing.

Pfizer’s vaccine shot needs to be kept at temperatures of -70°C.

“So they really gave notice that there will really likely be a delay,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

Nonetheless, Mr. Roque said the hold-up will have no significant impact on the implementation of the country’s vaccination road map and all vaccines from the COVAX Facility will still be delivered by July.

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The initial 117,000 vaccine doses of Pfizer vaccine was supposed to arrive in the country by mid-February.

Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., the country’s vaccine czar, earlier said about 5.5 million doses of  coronavirus vaccines from British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc under the equal access facility are expected to be delivered to the country by late February.

For vaccines manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Mr. Roque said the expected delivery of 600,000 doses could also be delayed if the country’s Food and Drug Administration will not issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) this week.

Sinovac submitted last month an EUA application before the country’s drug regulator.

Mr. Roque earlier said 100,000 doses of the initial batch of Sinovac shots, donated by the Chinese government, will be used to inoculate members of the Philippine military.

The FDA has so far authorized the vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca for emergency use.

Meanwhile, the Energy department on Thursday ordered distribution utilities to ensure reliable power supply to cold storage facilities and healthcare centers in time for the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine rollout.

In an advisory signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, electricity distributers have been directed to provide back-up systems to COVID-19 vaccine and cold storage facilities and healthcare centers, lay out emergency protocols, and ensure sufficient capacity to address a possible surge in demand. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Angelica Y. Yang

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