MANILA-- Participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials could guarantee the Philippines access to a possible drug against the new coronavirus that has upended life globally, the country's Department of Science and Technology said Wednesday.
If Manila joins vaccine clinical trials, it would be given access to the drug, said Jaime Montoya, executive director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
"May garantiya, 'pag napatunayang epektibo ang bakuna, kailangan siyang maging available sa bansa," Montoya told lawmakers during deliberations over the proposed 2021 national budget.
(There is guarantee that a vaccine proven effective should also be available in the country where it was tested.)
Joining clinical trials could also prepare the country on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, he said, noting that the country's Food and Drug Administration is also in favor of holding tests in the Philippines to speed up registration for commercial use.
"Pinakamahalaga, magkakaroon ng karanasan at malalaman natin kung [ang] pagresponde sa bakuna ay angkop at tama, base sa nakita sa ibang bansa," Montoya said.
(What's important is that we will have experience and see if the response to the vaccine is correct, based on the experience of other countries.)
"Ang ating FDA din, mas ginugusto na may local o clinical trial dahil may basehan pa'no malaman kung [ang] Pinoy ay maganda [ang] response sa bakuna. Sa gayon, mapapabilis ang registration ng mga produkto para maging available na sa karamihan," he said.
(Our own FDA also prefers local clinical trials to see if Filipinos have a positive response to the vaccine. This way, the registration of products will be faster and can be made available commercially.)
The government's pandemic response task force earlier said the Philippines would prioritize vaccine trials under the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial program.
Manila has ongoing vaccine discussions with Beijing and Moscow, with Russia's COVID-19 vaccine already approved for human clinical trials in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte even volunteered himself to be inoculated in public with the Russian drug.
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña meanwhile assured lawmakers that strict ethical standards would be observed for clinical trials, noting that Filipino participants "must adhere to certain conditions."
He added that should a COVID-19 vaccine pass scrutiny, the Philippines should ensure the availability of funds for the procurement of the drug.