quezon city 2nd district rep. precious castelo. (file photo)

manila – a lawmaker at the house of representatives on thursday urged the government to prepare early for the storage and distribution of the much-awaited coronavirus disease (covid-19) vaccine.

quezon city rep. precious castelo made the appeal by filing house bill 8000 mandating the state to “amply prepare cold storage facilities for storing and safekeeping of covid-19 vaccines in anticipation of their arrival and mass distribution to the filipino people.”

the department of health (doh) shall be mandated to urgently prepare for the provision of such facilities “in accordance with specifications that are suitable for the safekeeping of the vaccines.

castelo said many countries are ramping up preparations for receiving and distributing vaccines to their people after several drug companies have reported that their vaccines against the new coronavirus have an efficacy rate of 70 percent to 95 percent.

“considering that our country is a populous nation and is an archipelago, a safe and effective mass distribution of the vaccine requires ample planning and preparation,” she said.

castelo noted that president rodrigo duterte wanted at least 20 million poor filipinos to receive free inoculation against the virus.

she pointed out that transporting, storing, and distributing the vaccine would be a big challenge.

“i suppose we will get it from them. so how do we safely transport it? by plane? how many planes or flights are needed to ferry vaccines for 20 million filipinos? once it is here, where do we store it? how do we deliver it to the provinces, to remote communities? these are some of the questions that need answers,” she said.

she said the international air transport association (iata) estimates that at least 8,000 747 jumbo freighters would be needed to transport covid-19 vaccines around the world, which would be the “largest transport challenge ever” the industry would face.

she suggested that the doh tap government agencies and private companies with such facilities and seek donations such as coolers and ice to save on costs. (pna)