SENATOR Francis ‘Tol’ Tolentino urged the Department of Health (DOH) to utilize the cold-storage facilities of ice cream manufacturers to prevent the spoilage of the thousands of dosages of COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to be procured by second half of 2021.
Tolentino made the remarks during Friday’s budget deliberation for the proposed P131.72-billion of the Department of Health (DOH) and other attached agencies, wherein he was surprised by the revelation made by Health Sec. Francisco Duque that there was no allocation to finance the cold storage for the vaccines.
Tolentino suggested that the DOH should now understand the necessity of having appropriate vaccine storage, noting that it will surely not withstand the tropical climate in the country.
The senator stressed that the best way for DOH to secure cold-storage facilities is to build partnership with the private sectors, particularly those in the ice cream manufacturing industry and ice plants.
“Why don’t you at this earliest stage, touch base—Magnolia Ice Cream, Selecta Ice Cream. Call all ice cream manufacturers to utilize the cold storage facilities,” Tolentino told Duque.
Tolentino noted that a storage facility with -82°C capacity is needed to preserve and sustain the lifespan of every COVID-19 vaccine that will be purchased.
He added that leading American pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson has advised all their potential clients that the vaccine they developed needs -10°C freezer—a cold storage the DOH doesn’t have at the moment.
In the same hearing, Tolentino once again pointed out the conflicting statements from the DOH, FDA and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) regarding the conduct of clinical trials in the country.
Tolentino stressed that he don’t see any legal and health bases on the current practice that would make DOST as the lead agency in so far as the COVID-19 clinical trials are concern as everything should be lodged with the Department of Health.