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Cavite to join vaccine trials

Governor says 10,000 volunteers from province participating in tests by pharma groups from United Kingdom, United States
/ 04:30 AM August 14, 2020

The province of Cavite volunteered to participate in the clinical trial of two different new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, neither of which comes from countries favored by President Rodrigo Duterte in the global race to develop the pandemic cure.

Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor Remulla on Thursday said the vaccines—one developed in the United States and the other in the United Kingdom—would be tested on 10,000 people from Cavite, as part of the Phase 3 of the four-stage clinical research.

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EARLY TESTING In this photo taken in April, members of a medical team in Cavite province collect swab specimens from people suspected to be infected with COVID-19 through booths set up in a motel repurposed as a quarantine facility. —PHOTO COURTESY OF DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY–DASMARIÑAS

Free test

Phase 3, according to the World Health Organization, investigates the efficacy and possible adverse effects of an experimental drug on large groups—“from several hundred to several thousand.”

In a message to the Inquirer, Remulla said the vaccines would be given “free” to volunteers from Cavite. But he declined to disclose the brands, pending the formal signing of agreement with the pharmaceutical companies next week.

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The local government’s initiative to join the vaccine trials came on the heels of Duterte’s statement that he was willing to become a guinea pig for Russia’s “Sputnik V,” the first to be granted regulatory approval.

In earlier pronouncements, Duterte said he was also relying on vaccines being developed by China.

Caution

But Dr. Eduardo Janairo, Department of Health (DOH) regional director in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) region, cautioned local governments on taking part in clinical trials, which, he said, needed prior clearances from agencies like the Department of Science and Technology, which is in charge of vaccines.

“It has a lot of requisites. [Cavite] has to coordinate with the DOH, for instance, in selecting which hospitals will administer [the test vaccine] to prevent [adverse] effects on humans,” Janairo told the Inquirer by telephone.

Remulla said of the 10,000 volunteers from Cavite, half of them would be given placebo injection, where a substance or treatment administered has no therapeutic value. Placebo-controlled trials follow the global protocols, he said.

Jonvic Remulla

Reservations

Cavite is one of the provinces with a high number of infections, at 2,054 cases as of Aug. 12, according to the DOH.

Remulla expressed his reservations about Russia’s vaccine, which, according to local and foreign medical groups, has not yet completed the final trial stage.

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“I have nothing against the Russians nor am I connected to any preferred country or vaccine manufacturer. I do not stand to gain on this,” he said in a message.

Remulla also asked the DOH to “exercise caution” and safeguard the review, approval, and appropriation of COVID-19 vaccines. “If we did not get the [virus] containment strategy right, then let us ensure that the curative portion is done correctly,” he said.

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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