Vaccine Distribution: The Challenges We May Face

Following Pfizer’s confirmation of providing Filipinos with our vaccine supply, questions on how these vaccines will be distributed across the country are starting to arise. As the most anticipated weapon against our current pandemic, these potential vaccines are at the center of much discussion and preparation. In a Rappler article, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco of the OCTA Research Team brought up considerable concerns about the overall execution of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution that we shuld bear in mind.

Who Gets the Vaccines First?
The vaccines require two doses per person to take full effect. This would mean that for our estimated 110 million Filipinos, a total of 220 million doses must be procured by our government. If we are to get our supplies from Pfizer, we should bear in mind that of the projected 1.3 billion to be developed by the end of 2021, about 600 million have already been slated for the United States of America alone. Another 300 million doses has already been secured by the European Union. Other developed countries would have likewise already placed their considerable vaccine orders. It is unlikely for the Philippines to immediately receive the total 220 million doses it needs.

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The COVAX Facility, an international organization in charge of ensuring fair global vaccine distribution, has guaranteed that our country will initially receive enough supplies to vaccinate 3.5 million Filipinos. This is about 3% of our population. It’s also roughly the size of Quezon City’s population. In his article, Fr. Austriaco proposed that the vaccines be given to the epicenter of the pandemic, Metro Manila. There is also a general agreement that medical frontliners must be given first vaccination priority to ensure that they can continuously perform their duties with minimized risk of transmission. The immuno-compromised demographic such as the elderly will likely be next since most of them live in inter-generational households which renders them vulnerable to the disease. For the distribution to be implemented properly, it is of the utmost importance that the prioritizing of vaccine recipients to not be influenced by unnecessary politics or be allocated for the rich and powerful.

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Logistical Concerns
Another notable issue that should be addressed is the logistical requirements of the vaccines. Pfizer’s vaccine candidate requires to be kept at -80°C during storage and transportation. This is beyond the capacity of our usual refrigerators. The storing and shipping of these vaccines must be closely monitored and executed, especially since every Filipino must be given two doses with a month-long interval. With more than 7,100 islands to take into consideration, it is predicted that the distribution would begin in the middle or latter part of 2021. The vaccine distribution itself may take months or even years to be fully completed.

As we wait for the vaccines to be validated and distributed globally,  we must continue our detection and isolation efforts for the positive cases to conduct immediate treatment and minimize the virus’ reach. MEDTEK is an official distributor of equipment and devices for antibody, antigen and PCR testing. For accredited testing organizations and LGUs interested in purchasing this products, please feel free to fill out the form below.