Regional storage facilities to be retrofitted to house COVID-19 vaccines

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Regional storage facilities will be retrofitted to house the COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

During Monday’s COVID-19 update, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony said while the Ministry has invited bids for the construction of a cold storage bond at Kingston, Georgetown, there are plans to upgrade regional facilities as well.

“It’s not only that bond we are talking about, but we have regional storage facilities for vaccines for which we have been doing assessments because we will be upgrading all of them to ensure we have the capacity to be able to manage a COVID-19 vaccine,” he explained.

He said the upgrades are expected over the coming weeks. 

“The facilities would be upgraded and expanded in some cases because we would need the additional space. We’ll be adding new freezers appropriate for the types of vaccines that we’ll be getting and, in some cases, we will have to do some power upgrades since they will have to be stored at specific temperatures.”

Dr. Anthony recently gave assurances that the Ministry is working to ensure the country’s cold chain can accommodate any one of the available vaccines — whether it must be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius, minus 20 degrees Celsius or the normal two to eight degrees Celsius.

US drug company Moderna had announced an experimental vaccine against COVID-19, the mRNA-1273 from Biotech, which has shown a 94.5 per cent effectiveness.  This vaccine can be stored in a standard refrigerator with temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 degrees to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 days.

The Pfizer vaccine, which has shown 90 per cent protection against the virus, has to be stored at very cold temperatures of minus 70 t0 80 degrees.

Guyana is expected to benefit from a quota of vaccines through the COVAX facility.

Last week, the Ministry published an advertisement inviting sealed bids for the construction of the “Upper Floor Cold Storage Vaccine Bond” at Kingston.