Frontliners of Makati Medical Center start to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  (MNS photo)

MANILA, Apr 22 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines is ready to receive and properly store Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

This after vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said that an initial shipment of 20,000 doses will be arriving this week.

A DOH official said on Monday that this will be followed by 480,000 doses from the same vaccine developer before the end of the month.

“Meron tayong handa na storage and distribution system when it comes to the other vaccines that require this storage temperature. Napaghandaan na natin ‘yan mula’t mula pa,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing when asked about special preparations for Sputnik V’s storage requirements.

Unlike Sinovac and AstraZeneca’s vaccines, which require only regular refrigerator temperature, Gamaleya Institute’s Sputnik V in liquid form needs to be stored at -18 degrees Celsius. Its powdered form can be kept at the regular 2 to 8 degrees Celsius temperature.

Vergeire noted that the vaccine has “technical requirements” that they need to carefully follow since it comes in both liquid and powder form, which require different handling procedures.

She assured the public that simulations have already been done by the logistics team to avoid any issues.

“Handa ang ating gobyerno. Handa ang sistema para mareceive natin ang mga ganitong bakuna with this kind of temperature requirements,” she said.

Besides Sputnik V, the Philippine government is also expecting hundreds of thousands of vaccines from Sinovac and Pfizer this month.

The new vaccine stocks will arrive as the country struggles to deal with the high number of COVID-19 cases and the allegedly slow rollout of vaccines.

Only 1.2 million Filipinos have been vaccinated since the vaccinations started in March. This is still far from the target of 70 million Filipinos to reach herd immunity by the end of the year. (MNS)

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