Philippines reveals mix in COVID mix-and-match trial

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2021 08:52 AM | Updated as of Oct 25 2021 08:27 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines will be mixing Sinovac jabs with other vaccines for the mix-and-match trial of COVID-19 vaccines, an official said Monday. 

Science and Technology Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said the dry run for the mixing of different brands of COVID-19 vaccines will start this week.

“So may dry run tayo ngayong linggo sa Muntinlupa tsaka Davao. Pag okay na yung dry run, saka talaga tayo mag-uumpisa,” she said in an interview on TeleRadyo.

(We have a dry run this week in Muntinlupa and Davao. Once that is okay, that's when we'll start the mix-and-match trial.)

The actual mix-and-match trial of vaccines will start towards the end of October or early November, she added.

COVID-19 vaccine brands that will be mixed are those that have already been used in the country's immunization program.

“So ang mga imi-mix and match natin, yung mga locally available na ginagamit, dito sa ating National Immunization Program.”

The Philippines' drug regulator has granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine candidates of the following companies: Pfizer, Sinopharm, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Gamaleya Institute, Sinovac, and AstraZeneca.

“So pwedeng Sinovac, followed by Pfizer; Sinovac followed by Moderna, and so on. So yun yung two-dose. Tapos merong version na three-dose na Sinovac-Sinovac tapos Pfizer, Sinovac-Sinovac tapos Moderna, and so on,” Guevara said.

(We'll mix and match the locally available vaccines under the National Immunization Program. So we can use Sinovac, followed by Pfizer, or Sinovac followed by Moderna, and so on. There's also a three-dose version wherein we may use Sinovac-Sinovac then Pfizer, Sinovac-Sinovac then Moderna, and so on.)

She said only those who have not yet received any shot of the COVID-19 vaccine may participate in the trial.

“Dahil kailangan nating i-work up yung mga participants bago mag-umpisa, kailangan hindi pa nababakunahan itong mga ito,” she said.

(Because we need to work up the patients before we start, we need those who are unvaccinated to participate in this trial.)

"Meron tayong recruitment na nangyayari ngayon para sa mga magiging participants dito sa mix-and-match trial," she added.

(There's an ongoing recruitment of participants for this mix-and-match trial.)

In total, 3,000 participants are expected.

The results of the trial will be available by December or January, she said. 

“Itong ating ginagawang mix-and-match, ang aming intindi, siguro mga late December or early January, alam na natin kung alin yung maganda mong i-mix-and match para mataas talaga yung effectiveness.”

(For the mix-and-match trials, based on our understanding, we can start late December or early January. We'll find out by then what brands we can mix-and-match for high effectiveness.)

However, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña in a later interview also with TeleRadyo said the trial, which will be implemented by the Philippine Society for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, will run for at least a year.

"Ang recollection ko dito ay it will take at least 12 months, itong mix-and-match... Ito ay mahabang buwan ang gagawing monitoring. Kaya itong project na ito ay halos isang taon ang aabutin kasi o-obserbahan mo pa kung anong mangyayari dun sa mga binigyan ng mix-and-match," he said.

(My recollection here is that this mix-and-match trial will take at least 12 months... The monitoring will take several months. That's why this project will last for almost a year because the recipients will be observed.) 

He added that the trial, which will have 12 study arms, has to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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Guevara said the mix-and-match clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries have yielded positive results. 

“Ang kailangan natin malaman, sa Pilipino, alin yung magandang kombinasyon?”

(What we need to know is, what is a good combination for Filipinos?)

The Philippines has vaccinated at least 24 million of its 109 million population against COVID-19, Malacañang said last week.

The government has also raised its daily vaccination target to 1.5 million Filipinos daily to achieve a safe Christmas.

--TeleRadyo, 25 October 2021