DOH, DOST, FDA deny stalling application of Sinopharm for COVID-19 vaccine trial
MANILA (UPDATED) — The Department of Health (DOH) and other agencies on Friday denied reports that Chinese firm Sinopharm’s application for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in the Philippines was deliberately stalled.
“The DOH categorically denies these baseless accusations and clarifies that the country’s participation in several clinical trials including that of Sinopharm’s was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as early as May, as resolved in the IATF-EID Resolution No. 39 dated 22 May 2020,” the DOH said in a joint statement with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a statement, the DOST said “Sinopharm reached out to DOST with two proposals for collaboration: (1) the conduct of their clinical trial will be funded by the Philippines, or (2) Philippines will recognize the approval/authorization from their country.”
The DOST said it wrote back to say that the Philippine can only fund clinical trials under the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial. However, Sinopharm did not respond to its letter.
"Hindi na sumagot...Lahat sila sinabihan namin na kung pwede dito ay at their expense, matutulungan lang namin sila sa paghahanap ng lugar na pwedeng gawin ang trial," DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo Monday.
(They did not answer...We told all of them to conduct clinical trials here at their expense, we can only help them in looking for areas where the trial can be conducted.)
In a tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. reacted to an ABS-CBN report on this issue and said, “Okay Pfizer then. Moderna's offer is already in and it is humongous. AstraZeneca's too. So no problem.”
The FDA also said in the joint statement that Sinopharm has not submitted any application either for clinical trials or emergency use in the Philippines.
Chinese government-owned Sinopharm was among the world’s COVID-19 vaccine frontrunners. However, it was announced in October that it was no longer interested in running clinical trials in the Philippines. Its vaccine is supposed to have an efficacy rate of 79% against COVID-19.
The state-owned pharmaceutical firm recently made headlines in the Philippines after it was revealed that members of the Presidential Security Group illegally used its vaccines.
Only Pfizer, which has an efficacy rate of 95% has applied for emergency use in the Philippines and the FDA earlier said it might finish evaluating the application this month. The vaccine developer has already gotten World Health Organization approval and its vaccine has already been used in the United States and the United Kingdom.
AstraZeneca, which already has a supply deal with the private sector and the government, is expected to file its application as well. It has an average efficacy rate of 70%.Meanwhile, the DOH said it is working on a confidentiality data agreement with Moderna for possible procurement of its vaccines, which have an efficacy rate of 94.1%.
- With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News.