MANILA — Negotiations with Russia for its possible COVID-19 vaccine has reached a second round of evaluation by local experts, the Philippines' Department of Science said Thursday.
“Merong mga kulang na datos na hiningi ang vaccine expert panel. May second round ng evaluation na nangyayari ngayon,” said Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, during a Laging Handa briefing.
(There are some data that our vaccine expert panel asked for. There is a second round of evaluation happening now.)
Montoya said the panel wants to make sure that the vaccine is really safe for Filipinos.
Besides Russia, he said the Chinese company Sinovac and the European company Janssen are also planning to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials in the Philippines.
Sinovac already submitted its application during the first week of October, while Janssen is about to complete its documents, Montoya said.
But what the Philippines is prioritizing now is the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial, which will involve the simultaneous testing of several COVID-19 vaccines.
“Ang simula n'yan, base sa WHO timelines, ay mga last week of this month,” Montoya said, adding that WHO is still finalizing its list of vaccines.
(That will start, based on WHO timelines, around the last week of this month.)
He said the trials might end “at the earliest, the end of this year, or even early next year.”
Because of this, he said an approved vaccine won’t be available in the country until the 2nd quarter of next year.
Montoya said the Philippines' participation in the COVAX facility, a global effort that aims to provide for equitable access to new vaccines, would allow the country to receive at least 20% of its demand for vaccines.
“Ito po ay 20%. Ito ay lalabas ang supply first quarter next year. With all of our approval sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration) at requirements na kailangan talagang 2nd quarter tayo magkakaroon ng panimulang supply ng bakuna,” he said.
(This is 20%. It will come out in the first quarter next year. With all of our approval requirements from the FDA and others, we expect the initial supply to arrive during the 2nd quarter.)
He said that the initial allocation will be given to health care workers (3%) and members of the vulnerable population (17%) such as those who are old or have existing medical conditions.
He said the remaining 80% of vaccines needed by the Philippines will still undergo negotiations as well.
The Philippines has recorded, as of Thursday, a total of 331,869 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which, 6,069 resulted in deaths.
The country's first case was confirmed on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.