DOST to meet Russian vaccine maker on possible PH participation in clinical trials
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will meet with Gamaleya Institute, the manufacturer of Russia’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, to discuss the possible participation of the Philippines in the vaccine’s clinical trials.
In a media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire bared that the DOST, which leads the government’s COVID-19 vaccine panel, will meet with Gamaleya on Wednesday to discuss the country’s possible role in Phase 3 of the vaccine’s clinical trials.
“Ang pag-uusapan ngayon [What they will discuss] with the Department of Science and Technology is how we can possibly have the clinical trials here also in the Philippines,” Vergeire told reporters.
Russia’s vaccine was scheduled to start Phase 3 of its clinical trial this month. This is the stage where thousands of patients have to be vaccinated to test its safety and efficacy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier announced Moscow has approved and registered a vaccine for COVID-19, which has now infected more than 20 million people and killed more than 738,000 globally.
While some, including President Rodrigo Duterte, is upbeat about the development, some questions the vaccine’s safety and efficacy due to Russia’s lack of transparency over the supposed scientific breakthrough.
Nonetheless, the Department of Health (DOH) has assured that the Russian vaccine will undergo regulatory process once it reaches the Philippines.
“We can ensure the public na atin itong padadaanin sa mga procedures natin here sa Pilipinas even though dumaan na ‘yan sa regulatory procudures sa Russia…It’s different when it arrives here in the country,” Vergeire said.
The DOH official, however, clarified that clinical trials of different COVID-19 vaccines are different from the mass inoculation the government will implement once a specific vaccine has been approved for public use.
“Kailangan nating madifferentiate itong pumapasok na trials ngayon, [The clinical trials we have now,] these would be done to thousands of our citizens, but this is still not the exact allocation when you have the approved vaccine,” she explained.
The Philippines is also set to commence a nine-month clinical trial of the Japanese-made drug Avigan.
Four hospitals have already been identified as sites for the Avigan trials, namely, the Philippine General Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez, Sta. Ana Hospital, and Quirino Memorial and Medical Center.
Aside from this, the Philippines is also part of the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial.
As of Tuesday, there are 139,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 68,432 recoveries and 2,312 deaths.
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