After both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) confirmed that the province does not have a facility to store and handle Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Arthur Yap on Monday said that the province is ready to receive jabs from the American drugmaker.
“Dili na tinuod na wala tay refrigeration facility sa Bohol para sa Pfizer vaccines. I repeat dili na tinuod na wala tay refrigeration storage facility sa Bohol para sa mga Pfizer vaccines,” Yap said in Capitol-paid radio program.
According to Yap, the DOH-run Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH) in Tagbilaran City has a refrigeration storage facility that can store Pfizer vaccines.
The governor noted that Bohol is ready to accept the vaccines which require ultra-cold conditions to maintain its efficacy.
However, he did not clarify if the purchase of the refrigeration unit was made after he drew heavy flak for airing his stand stand last week that the province is unwilling to spend “tens of millions” on an ultra-cold storage facility or if he and the BIATF erroneously stated also last week that Bohol does not have the capacity to store the jabs.
Yap’s claim that Bohol is ready to accept Pfizer vaccines came after BIATF spokesperson and newly appointed Provincial Health Office chief Dr. Yul Lopez on Wednesday last week admitted that there is indeed no ultra-cold storage facility in the province.
Lopez even highlighted that storing and handling Pfizer vaccines in the province go against “common sense” considering that the jabs require ultra-cold conditions of -70 degrees Celsius to maintain its efficacy.
“So common sense. Sentido kumon. Ari ta sa mga bakuna with less demanding requisites. Duna may daghang bakuna na almost equally as effective as Pfizer na nagkinahanglan lang sa 2-8 degrees centigrade,” Lopez said.
“Dinhi sa Pilipinas ang lugar lang nga adunay andam na ultra cold storage facility mao ang Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao. Mahimo og mo tawag kita karon sa tanang lalawigan gawas niining mga lugara, pulos walay ultra cold storage facility, what is available is a 2-8 degrees centigrade storage facility,” he added.
Lopez statement was issued after DOH 7 spokesperson and chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche also confirmed on Tuesday last week that Bohol does not have a facility to store Pfizer vaccines.
The DOH has direct supervision over the GCGMH.
In a press briefing on Friday last week, Yap also echoed Lopez’s statement saying that only three metropolises in the country have the capacity to store Pfizer jabs.
“The national government has said na ang makakaya ra sa pag-store sa [Pfizer] ang National Capital Region ra, ang Cebu, ug ang Davao kay mas dako ang ilang logistics hub didto,” Yap said.
The governor noted that Bohol should instead focus on the distribution of available vaccines that do not require ultra-cold storage.
“Dili ra man Pfizer ang pwede e-supply nato. Pwede ang Sinovac, pwede ang Novavax, AstraZeneca, J&J,” he added.
The national government’s vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez has announced that the Philippine government signed a term sheet for the procurement of 40 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccines.
The deal is poised to be the Philippine government’s largest COVID-19 vaccine procurement, so far.