Wanted: Volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trials in Metro Manila

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2021 03:27 PM | Updated as of Jan 08 2021 05:50 PM

Healthworkers attend to returning Manila residents at the San Andres Quarantine Facility in Manila on January 4, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The World Health Organization needs more volunteers to test the vaccine against coronavirus disease, a government official said Friday, amid polls that only a quarter of Metro Manila residents were willing to be inoculated.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has increased the budget allotted for the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for vaccines because of the expanded number of participants, said Science Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra.

“Nagbago ang plano ng WHO. 15,000 na po ang participants at nakahingi tayo ng additional funding na 384.4 million para magawa natin yung pang 15,000,” Guevarra told reporters.

(WHO’s plans changed. They now need 15,000 participants and we were able to ask for additional funding of P384.4 million.)

Initially, the WHO said it needed 4,000 participants from the Philippines so the government allotted P89.1 million for the trial's logistics. Vaccine cost and its shipment will be shouldered by the WHO.

Guevarra said the trial, which will involve multiple vaccines that the WHO wants to evaluate, will be done in the National Capital Region.

The Philippine General Hospital will be heading the trial, alongside 11 other hospitals, she added.

She said zoning guidelines are also being finalized so that the areas covered by the WHO won’t overlap with that of Janssen or Clover Biopharmaceuticals, which applied for independent clinical trials.

“Ang hiling namin sana yung mga lugar (na mapipili), magparticipate at magvolutneer po ang ating mga kababayan para sa Solidarity Trial,” she said.

(Our request for the areas that will be included is for our citizens to participate and volunteer for the Solidarity Trial.)

She said volunteers will be recruited on the barangay level. However, the WHO has yet to release its list of trial sites and the vaccines that will be used.