DAVAO CITY – Following the example of Metro Manila, the Davao Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) on Covid-19 held a simulation for the handling of the vaccines’ arrival Wednesday.

The simulation started with the “vaccines” or boxes simulated to contain the actual vaccine arriving at the Davao International Airport.  These were then transported to, accepted, and stored at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).

The 5,000 doses of vaccines were stored inside SPMC’s Metrobank Foundation Molecular Laboratory.  These were then inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH).

The total simulation exercise lasted a total running time of 34 minutes and 58 seconds.

Regional Health Director Annabelle Yumang said the simulation was held to see their readiness in handling and delivering the vaccines.

She added the simulation is needed as it would help them assess their capability to handle vaccines with -70 to -80 degrees Celsius storage temperature.

“One of the critical steps will be the delivery to various sites in a timely and safe manner. Loading, transporting, and inspecting will be reviewed. The shorter the handling time of the delivery, the better,” Yumang said.

She added that they are not yet sure what brand of the vaccine will be delivered in Davao.  However, they conducted the simulation for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which require a temperature keeping temperature of -70°C to -80°C for storage.

Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting City Health Officer, agreed that time and motion are important in preserving the vaccines.

“Time and motion are very important so that we can preserve the vaccines. As we know, we have limitations in the vaccine and we cannot afford to have even single spoilage. And that’s why we have to assure from the transport down to the facility, para ma-regulate po natin yung mga vaccine (to regulate the vaccines),” Lopez said.

He said they need to ensure that there is no fluctuation in the temperature during the delivery of the vaccines to their storage.

“If there is a need to augment to the capacity of the storage with the SPMC, we can use it,” Lopez said, adding that the freezer can accommodate 35,000 vials.

Yumang said the vaccines are set to arrive in the country on February 12, although she could not provide a date when these will arrive in the city.

The only facility with ultra-low freezer storage in the city is the city government-owned Los Amigos Molecular Laboratory.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, OIC Medical Center Chief of SPMC, said the ultra-low refrigerator the SPMC has purchased is yet to arrive on February 19. – Rommel F. Lopez