PH considers joining WHO vaccine trials

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2020 12:48 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Tuesday said it is considering joining the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials of the World Health Organization.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that after President Rodrigo Duterte offered reward money for the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, they met with scientists and other stakeholders in the health sector.

During a virtual briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning, Vergeire said that the scientists suggested that while the Philippines is preparing for its own vaccine development, it should join the WHO’s Solidarity Trial for vaccines.

“So isa yan sa pinagtatrabahuhan natin ngayon, together with WHO, na makasama rin tayo dito sa trial ng vaccines katulad ng mga gamot na ginagawa na natin ngayon,” she said.

(So that’s one of the things we are working on, together with the WHO, so we can join the trial for vaccines like how we joined the one for drugs.)

The Philippines is among the more than 100 countries that are participating in the WHO’s Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 treatments. This involves the testing of off-label drugs that have shown some evidence of effectivity against COVID-19.

The Philippines has said it will have an initial 500 patients who will be enrolled in the clinical trials. 

Vergeire said the Philippines has scientists who are interested in the prospect of producing a COVID-19 vaccine locally but she none have expressed willingness to do it.

She also acknowledged the need for technology or equipment.

“Meron tayong vaccine production unit sa ating RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine). Naumpisahan pero tumigil ang ating development para dyan. Ang kakayananan, teknolohiya maaaring meron pero napakakonti. Kailangan pa rin nating palakasin at dagdagan,” she said.

(We have a vaccine production unit at RITM. It has started but the development stopped. We. may have the capability and the technology but it’s not enough. We need to strengthen and add to it.)

The WHO Philippines on Monday said the country has to prepare for the arrival of the vaccine for COVID-19 through faster regulation processes and local technology.