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Body to dispense corona shots

MJ Blancaflor

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The pandemic task force has formed a special body to ensure the “successful and efficient” distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Palace announced Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had approved the creation of the COVID-19 Immunization Program Management Organizational Structure that would be led by the Department of Health (DoH).

“The creation of a task force will ensure the successful and efficient deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to the target population,” Roque said.

Hoarding a danger
This came amid calls to President Rodrigo Duterte to pick a “vaccine czar” who would lead the government’s efforts to acquire COVID-19 vaccines as countries all over the world are scrambling to secure doses.

Health experts and access advocates have warned that rich countries may leave poorer countries in the lurch in “hoarding” COVID-19 vaccines before these hit the market.

The country should also prepare for cold storage facilities since vaccines must be kept at temperatures as low as -80 degrees Celsius to maintain its potency.

So far, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa is the sole facility for vaccine storage in the Philippines

Facilities under review
Local health officials previously said an inventory of cold storage facilities is underway, adding that the department plans to equip each region and provinces with these facilities to store COVID-19 vaccines once available.

Roque said the DoH has been directed to immediately convene the newly-created body, which would be under the National Task Force Against COVID-19, to establish sub-task groups as necessary.

President Duterte has been pinning his hopes on vaccines against COVID-19 to put an end to the pandemic that battered the economy.

Earlier this week, Duterte said he prefers a government-to-government transaction in purchasing COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that negotiations with manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies might breed corruption.

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