WHO urges Philippines to pledge more volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 12:00 PM

MANILA — The World Health Organization on Monday said it wants the Philippines to increase its number of volunteer participants for a multi-country COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“For the Philippines, WHO was hoping the Philippines will include up to 4,000 individuals,” WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said during a Laging Handa briefing.

“My understanding is the Philippines is looking at 2,000 to 3,000 participants joining the trial. We are hoping that number would increase,” he added.

He explained that the faster they reach the target number of participants from across the world, the faster they can have evidence of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

Abeyasinghe said 10 trial sites were already identified by the Philippines — 9 in the National Capital Region and 1 in Cebu. He explained that these are areas where there is high level of COVID-19 transmission. 

He said that while there has been a decline in transmission in both areas, they think the numbers are “still adequate.”

Volunteers will be within 18 to 60 years old. He said certain members of the population will be excluded, including pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions since they are still evaluating the safety of the vaccines.

He said the WHO was looking at 8 to 9 vaccines that are nearing completion of their requirements but that they have yet to finalize the list. 

Abeyasinghe said the target start of the trial is still the end of October. He also reiterated that the vaccine will probably be available in the 2nd quarter of 2021, specifically June.