MANILA — The Philippines might start its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials with two Chinese vaccine developers by the end of 2020 or the start of next year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Friday.
This, if Sinovac and Clover Biopharmaceuticals, both Chinese companies, would not face any problems in their application for clinical trials with the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, told reporters that following Sinovac’s approval by the vaccine expert panel last October 10, “as of November 25, the vaccine expert panel also technically cleared Clover Biopharmaceuticals application.”
He said the application of Clover was already forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration for final regulatory review.
To run a clinical trial in the Philippines, a vaccine developer must first pass pre-evaluation by the vaccine experts panel and the ethics review board before their application can be officially accepted by the FDA.
“We foresee they (Sinovac and Clover) will be able to complete the (ethics) review process in the next few days,” Montoya said.
“Kung magtuloy-tuloy ang Sinovac at Clover, we foresee na mag-uumpisa ang clinical trial ng late December or early January,” he added.
Besides Sinovac and Clover, the government is also evaluating clinical trial applications from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, Belgium-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and AstraZeneca, which is about to sign an agreement for the purchase of 2 million vaccine doses with the Philippine government and private companies funding the deal.
Montoya said Gamaleya and Janssen are just working on completing their documents while the vaccine expert panel is reviewing their responses.
He said the panel also sent questions to AstraZeneca, which is in the process of sending over its response.
Besides talks with companies, the Philippines is also waiting for the World Health Organization, which is organizing a multi-country trial for several possible vaccines against COVID-19. It also aims to start clinical trials in December.