MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has set a tentative timeline to begin Phase 3 clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine by October this year, as it is currently in talks with the World Health Organization and different vaccine developers to join trials that will test a potential cure to the disease.
University of the Philippines College of Public Health Professor Nina Gloriani, who leads the country’s vaccine expert panel, announced this in a Department of Health daily briefing on Wednesday, July 8.
Along with Gloriani, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Executive Director Jaime Montoya said the Philippines was looking to participate in clinical trials of the most advanced vaccine candidates developed by international partners as the country’s “best short-term strategy” for now.
As the country lacks the capacity to develop a vaccine on its own, Montoya said this strategy would ensure that vaccines will be made accessible and available to Filipinos once proved to be effective.
The approach will also allow the Food and Drug Administration to approve and register the vaccine quicker due to the country’s experience with these during clinical trials.
Gloriani said the trial can last anywhere form at least 6 months to one year as scientists wait and see if the vaccine is successful in protecting against the coronavirus.
What’s happening now? Though trials may at best be 6 months from now, Montoya said the country is currently in talks with the WHO to join solidarity trials for a vaccine. This is apart from WHO solidarity trials the Philippines is already part of involving treatments to the disease.
“Tayo po ay sasali sa tinatawag nating solidarity trial for vaccines na sinusupervise ng WHO. Ito po ay isang pag-aaral na titignan ng ligtas, pinakamabisa, at pinakaepektibong na bakuna na lalawakan ng maraming bansa,” Montoya said
“Malalaman po natin sa lalong madaling panahon kung alin sa mga bakunang ito ang totoong mabisa na pwede nating gamitin sa ating bansa,” he added.
(We will join what is called a solidarity trial for vaccines that will be supervised by the WHO. This is to study the safety and effectivety of a vaccine that will be tested by many countries. We will soon know which of these vaccines will be truly effective for use in our country.)
Aside from this, the government’s coronavirus task force also earlier approved the Philippines’ collaboration in trials for 5 vaccines. This included 3 from Sinovac, Sinopharm, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in China as well as two being developed by Adimmune Corporation and academia Sinica in Taiwan.
Montoya said the Philippines is also continuously in talks with other international collaborators and vaccine developers for potential trials. Clinical trials for the 5 selected vaccines so far will take place alongside the WHO solidarity trial for a vaccine once it begins.
Gloriani said a potential 1,000 to 5,000 people aged 18-59 years old may be included as participants. Priority volunteers will most likely come from groups with a high risk of exposure to the disease like health care workers, front like workers, and contacts of cases.
Why this matters. Back in April, WHO acting country representative Dr Socorro Escalante urged the Philippines to start preparing its vaccine strategy while development for one was underway.
Escalante provided a two-track preparatory approach that involved reviewing regulatory processes as well as developing manufacturing systems to aid in the local production of the medicine when ready.
The strategy is important considering the Philippines’ immunization rates prior to the pandemic were still recovering from low coverage levels due to the Dengavaxia scare and back-to-back measles and polio outbreaks. – Rappler.com