‘Nobody noticed the freezer was turned off’: 348 Coronavac vials destroyed in Cotabato town
COTABATO CITY—At least 348 vials of Coronavac, the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Chinese firm Sinovac, had been left in a freezer without electricity during the weekend and may have been damaged and rendered unfit for human use, according to a Cotabato provincial official on Thursday (May 13).
Philbert Malaluan, Cotabato provincial board member and spokesperson of the provincial Inter Agency Task Force (IATF), said as of 4 p.m. on Thursday, the provincial government had received an advisory from the regional Department of Health (DOH) office that the vaccines had been damaged.
The DOH advisory came two days after the provincial government sent the vaccines for checking.
“The advisory said the vaccines have been damaged,” said Malaluan, a doctor, in a radio interview in Kidapawan City.
Earlier, Dr. Eva Rabaya, Cotabato provincial health chief, said the vaccines had been unwittingly kept in a freezer without electricity for more than two days in Makilala town, Cotabato. A brownout that occurred in the town at 12:30 p.m. last Friday (May 7) prompted health workers and the police to place the vials inside the freezer of the Makilala town police office where there was a generator. But when power was restored at 2 p.m., the generator turned out to be off and no one recalled plugging the freezer into an electric socket.
Dr. Gina Sorilla, Makilala municipal health officer who was summoned by the town council to explain, said the vaccines were for injection into senior citizens on Monday (March 10).
“Nobody noticed that the freezer was not switched on,” said Lito Cañedo, Makilala IATF spokesperson.
“Saturday and Sunday were no-work days. It was only in the morning of Monday, May 10, that health personnel discovered,” Cañedo said. Soon after the discovery, health workers turned on the freezer on but it took another day for town health officials to send the vials to the DOH for inspection.
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