PH gov’t open to having more Filipinos volunteer for WHO’s COVID-19 vaccine trials

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2020 06:15 PM

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MANILA — The Philippine government said it would be amenable to raising its target number of participants for the local run of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 vaccine trial. 

“Kung mapapag-usapan pa ulit, na increase natin, i-expand, wala pong problema doon. Mas marami tayong mapag-aaralan. The results would be more accurate,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(If that would be discussed again, that we need to increase or expand, we have no problem with that. We’ll get more participants. The results would be more accurate.)

Vergeire said this a couple of days after WHO Philippines Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said they hope the country would increase its allocation to 4,000 participants instead of the target 2,000 to 3,000.

Vergeire explained that the number of 2,000 to 3,000 was estimated based on the initial agreement of government units to allot 150 to 200 participants for each of the identified trial sites.

The trial sites have yet to be announced but the government earlier said they will be based on the top 5 to 10 barangays with the number number of COVID-19 cases.

However, Vergeire said they will have to discuss it first within the Philippines government since it will “entail resources.”

“Kaya kailangan paguusap ulit (We have to discuss this again) with other partner agencies and WHO because they are the ones sponsoring and overseeing this trial,” she said.

The health official assured though that they will “align” with the WHO recommendation if that is the opinion of the experts.

The WHO earlier estimated that it will start its Solidarity Trial by the end of October. It will involve the simultaneous testing of possible COVID-19 vaccines in various countries including the Philippines.