RECENTLY and in view of the fact that the country is not overflowing with COVID-19 vaccine supplies, most Filipinos were shocked to learn that 348 vials of Coronavac, the anti-coronavirus produced by the China-based Sinovac company, got spoiled following a power outage in Makilala, North Cotabato.
The unfortunate incident prompted Departmenet of Energy (DoE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi to issue a statement on the matter, apparently out of utter dismay.
Part of his statement read: “I urge the diligence of everyone concerned so that this incident will not happen again. We cannot afford negligence or even a simple overlook to derail and affect the government’s vaccination drive.”
“I reiterate my earlier directive to our power stakeholders to ensure reliable and stable electric power supply to support COVID-19 vaccine cold storage and health care facilities,” Sec. Cusi added.
According to a report receive by the office of Sec. Cusi from the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco), a power outage occurred at around 1:30 p.m. on May 7 (Friday.
The said outage lasted for one hour and 30 minutes. It was due to one of the affected lines during the multiple outages in South and North Cotabato due to strong winds.
It will be recalled that as early as February, Sec. Cusi had been working with all the members of the DOE family so as to ensure that the vaccines will be protected at all cost once it is rolled out nationwide.
According to Sec. Cusi, the Department of Energy- Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (DOE-EPIMB) and the Task Force on Energy Resiliency (TFER) have worked together in undertaking a “triple safeguard” approach to securing power services in vaccine storage and administration sites.
The approach is similar to what was employed during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games which the country hosted.
Based on this protocol, there would be three power backups. The first line would be coming from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the second from the Distribution Utilities, while the third and final back up would be the generators provided by the facility itself or the local government unit (LGU).
In the said particular case in Cotabato, still according to the report forwarded to the DOE chief’s office, the vaccine cooling equipment was transferred to a genset supply by their municipal health workers.
Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, it was not connected back to the main line when the power came back.
It took two days before those in charge realized that there was no longer any supply to the cooling equipment as the genset had already been turned off.
As a reinforcement, Sec. Cusi said the DOE will issue advisories or reminders to the electric cooperatives (ECs) and LGUs about the protocol in case similar incidents occur.
If needed, the DOE said it is ready to work with the LGUs to conduct some lectures or seminars on what to do when outages occur.
As can be gleaned from the details gathered, it appears that the wastage of the precious vaccines was a result of negligence.
It is hard to fathom how those in charge could forget about connecting the storage equipment back to the main line when the power supply was finally restored.
Even granting that it slipped out of one’s mind, for it to take two days for one to realize that the vaccines have been left to spoil?
The national health authorities must issue a stern warning to all local government officials to make sure that the Cotabato incident does not happen again ever, especially in the light of the fact that the supply of vaccines arriving in the country are not even continuous, mainly due to the unequitable distribution worldwide.
These COVID-19 vaccines must be treated as ‘gold,’ precious as they are since they are not readily available right now.
I’m just curious: How long have the vaccines been sitting in the said Cotabato storage? If it took two days for the handlers to realize that the vaccines have been left to rot, does it mean that they are not being deployed the way they should and I mean fast or ASAP?
Jokjok (from Butch Quejada of Pilipino Star Ngayon)—-WIFE: Honey, what are you doing?/HUSBAND: I am reading a book/WIFE :Why you are crying?/HUSBAND: The ending of the book is very sad/ WIFE: What book is that?/HUSBAND: My bank book!
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