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Is the PH ready to store COVID-19 Vaccines?

Just like the rest of the world, the Philippines is gearing up to implement its biggest mass immunization campaign yet, as it prepares to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program, targeted to start in the first quarter of this year.  

The country is now negotiating with pharmaceutical firms to secure its initial batch of COVID-19 vaccine shots, such as the UK’s AstraZeneca, China’s Sinovac, and US-based Pfizer, according to health authorities. They also aim to inoculate 50 to 70 million citizens in 2021 and reach all 110 million Filipinos nationwide by 2024. 

Gearing up the storage facilities 

As the first round of these vaccines is now just around the corner, health organizations need to ensure that they are ready to receive and administer these life-saving pharmaceuticals. Health experts identified two strategies for storing vaccines, depending on their required temperatures. 

For instance, for the vaccines that need storage temperatures of 2°C to 8°C and -20°C, the Department of Health (DOH) rented private warehouses to store them. They will also utilize the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM), the primary storage location of vaccines used for the government's National Immunization Program. 

On the other hand, the vaccines that require -70°C or ultracold storage facilities, such as Pfizer and BioNTech, will be stored in private warehouses of third-party logistics providers tapped by the government. Hospitals that will receive these vaccines are also already purchasing ultracold freezers designed to keep them. 

However, they may be overlooking critical components of their solution: power conditioning and emergency backup power for this vital equipment. To consistently maintain such low temperatures, Vertiv, a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, says that the freezers require a great deal of power. 

 "If the power source is compromised for any reason, it may put the limited vaccine supply at risk and could be disastrous at this critical stage in the fight against COVID-19," said Jason Lim, country manager of Vertiv Philippines. 

Choosing the right emergency backup power 

Given the high stakes, Vertiv noted that an emergency backup power for the low-temperature freezers must be a part of the solution at each location where the vaccines will be stored. Ideally, this solution will include an intelligent Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that meets the following five criteria: 

Online Double Conversion Technology. There are three major types of UPS system configurations: offline, line-interactive, and online double conversion. For the most mission-critical applications, the online double-conversion UPS solution offers the most significant degree of protection. With this type of UPS, ultra-low temperature freezers will be fully isolated from raw utility power, protecting the freezers from power sags, surges, blackouts, or brownouts that could compromise their ability to keep the vaccines inside at the right temperature. 

Zero Transfer Time to Batteries. Even in applications that use a generator, there is transfer time involved in switching from the primary power source to the backup generator. During that lag, freezer operation can be negatively impacted, jeopardizing the contents inside. A double-conversion UPS fills the transfer time gap with battery power until the generator kicks in. The UPS should transfer to battery backup power instantaneously for premium protection, ensuring a truly uninterruptible supply of power and a constant holding temperature for the vaccines. 

Scalable Runtime. Sometimes, a generator is not available, or contingency planning for critical systems requires hours of battery runtime instead of just minutes. In these cases, a UPS model that can detect and connect with external battery cabinets to access additional battery power can offer this level of support. 

UPS Remote Monitoring Capabilities. It is essential to know that the UPS is always functioning as intended and doing its job around the clock. Facility personnel also need to know if the UPS batteries are fully charged and ready to discharge if and when they are needed. An intelligent UPS enables monitoring both remotely and locally, helping personnel manage battery health and proactively predict battery replacement dates. Alarm notifications delivered via email and text keep staff informed of any power issues and expedite response time if there is ever a problem with the units. 

Easy Installation and Operation. With so much on the plates of healthcare operations right now, a UPS cannot add more complexity to the equation. A plug-and-play system that is quick to install and configure and supports multiple freezers ensures your emergency backup power remains a help instead of a hindrance. A compact, flexible form factor that can be mounted on the floor or wall further streamlines installation and takes up minimal space. Finally, a user-friendly, easy-to-read interface for system insights and diagnosis helps simplify ongoing system operation and maintenance. 

Giving COVID-19 vaccines the protection, they deserve 

The new COVID-19 vaccines serve as a much-needed hope for the country’s battle against the novel virus. Ultra-low temperature freezers will play critical roles in all healthcare facilities’ efforts to ensure every dose is put to good use, along with the online-double conversion UPS systems that back them up.  

As the country gears up for the national vaccination program, Vertiv aims to support the health authorities and facilities through its selection of full-featured and cost-effective power solutions, which checks all of the boxes above. 

To learn more about how Vertiv supports the continuity of today’s vital e-learning and other business applications, visit Vertiv.com.

Topics: COVID-19 , vaccination program , mass immunization campaign
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