MANILA — The Department of Health said it was meeting with COVID-19 vaccine developers on Friday to discuss the possibility of holding clinical trials in the country.
“We have a meeting with Pfizer at 1 o’clock this afternoon, together with the Office of the President, of course with the Secretary and DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing when asked if the Philippines would have access to the pharmaceutical company’s vaccine.
US President Donald Trump earlier said he thinks they “have a winner” with their federal government’s deal with Pfizer and biotech firm BioNTech, which are jointly developing four potential vaccines against the COVID-19 virus.
Vergeire said they will share with the media and the public the information they will get from the meeting.
She also said it would not affect their ongoing negotiations with vaccine developers from Russia and China.
“Itong sa Russian vaccine we have a meeting with the Russian Embassy today at 3 p.m.,” she added.
The Philippines and Russia have been negotiating on holding possible Phase III clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in the country. On top of that are negotiations on either manufacturing or distributing the vaccine in the Philippines once it gets final approval.
Russia’s vaccine has become controversial after it was given regulatory approval after completing only Phase II of the trials. But the government later clarified it is only being used by health care workers and will still go through Phase III or large-scale testing for safety and efficacy.
Even before the said negotiations, the Philippines has been in talks with China, where the first known case of COVID-19 emerged, on the various vaccines being developed there.
Vergeire said they are still working out the details with IP Biotech, the company that is supposed to manufacture or distribute China’s Sinovac vaccine in the Philippines.
She said they are still waiting for the Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement to allow Filipino experts to take a look at the vaccine developer’s documents to see the results of earlier clinical trials.
“Hopefully pag natapos na lahat ng legalities na kailangan i-ayos (Hopefully when all the legalities are done) we can start and we can share that information with all of you,” Vergeire said.