PH to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials

Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2020 05:47 PM

MANILA - The Philippines will participate in clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines after being recommended by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), as cases of the deadly disease in the country neared 14,000.

This as laboratories across the globe scrambled to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, which has sickened 5.2 million people worldwide and killed more than 338,000 since it first emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. 

In its Resolution No. 39 dated May 22, 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the participation of the Philippines in clinical trials of four collaborating organizations. 

These are the following: 

  •  Adimmune Corporation (Taiwan)
  •  Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
  •  Chinese Academy of Science - Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (China)
  •  SinoPharma- Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Beijing Institute (China)

According to the IATF, the organizations will be provided with requirements for COVID-19 vaccine target product profiles from the World Health Organization; pre-qualification process for WHO approvals; and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) updated guidelines on clinical trials.

"Pursuant to the foregoing, the FDA is directed to advise on the process to facilitate the issuance of permit for the conduct of clinical trial in the Philippines," the IATF said.

It said that researchers involved in the clinical trials will "identify together" study sites. Once clinical trials are finished, these will form part of the requirements for the vaccine registration process by the FDA for issuance of the certificate of product registration for marker release in the country.

A DOST-led sub-technical working group was also formed and directed to coordinate with the WHO, the Department of Health, FDA, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine "for matters relating to such clinical trials."

The IATF also said it supports the DOST's plans to establish research centers that can "initiate and strengthen" vaccine development in the Philippines. 

The plans include the establishment of a virology institute in New Clark City, Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit at DOST's Industrial Technology and Development Institute as the Tuklas Lunas Center for Pharmaceuticals Development.

The resolution was signed by IATF chairperson and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and IATF co-chair Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

The Philippines earlier started its participation in the World Health Organization’s clinical trials, which involves the testing of off-label drugs that have shown some evidence of effectivity against COVID-19.

As of May 16, more than 100 COVID-19 patients in Metro Manila and Davao City have been enrolled in the WHO's Solidarity Trial, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

To date, the Philippines has confirmed 13,777 COVID-19 cases, of whom 863 died and 3,177 others recovered.