MANILA — Barring any further delays, the World Health Organization’s clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines might start on the last week of October, the Department of Health said Friday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing on Friday that the Philippines’ sub-technical working group for vaccine development met with WHO and received updates on the new timeline.
The health official said that by the third or fourth week of September, the Solidarity Trial team will announce the vaccines that will be included in the trials.
“Sa ngayon kasi may mga pinagpipilian na listahan which are about 34 na mga bakuna na pinagpipilian. Of course they will be reducing this, kung ano lang ang karapat dapat iyon ang isasama nila,” Vergeire said.
(Right now they are choosing from a list of about 34 vaccines. Of course they will be reducing this, based on which ones deserve to be included.)
The Department of Science and Technology earlier told ABS-CBN News that around 8 vaccines will be included in the WHO trial. While vaccine developers are negotiating separately with the Philippines, the government said it will prioritize the WHO trial, which will allow simultaneous testing of several vaccines in different countries.
Vergeire said that by the end of September, they will be able to identify the sites where the trials will be conducted.
“Mag-uumpisa kasi muna sa isang pilot site tapos all the sites that were identified already isasama na,” she said, adding that they need to talk to local government units first before revealing the areas where the trial might be done.
(They’ll start with a pilot site then all of the other sites identified will be included.)
Currently, the Philippines is also in talks with vaccine developers from Russia and China.
“As to Gamaleya Institute (of Russia), itong Sputnik S (vaccine, they already submitted their documents to us. We were able to review it already, the vaccine expert panel, and we already submitted our comments,” Vergeire said. “So we are just awaiting for their response on the comments of our vaccine expert panel.”
She said the other vaccines are still under negotiation, including the ones from Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm.
“Their confidentiality agreement we have already transmitted it to them,” she said, adding that they cannot reveal more information until they get the response from the Chinese companies.