Gov’t in talks with 25 vaccine makers, DOH says
The Philippines is in varying levels of discussions with at least 25 drugmakers developing a potential vaccine against COVID-19 even as the country awaits more information on the Russian “Sputnik V,” the first vaccine developed against the disease that has already killed more than 700,000 people worldwide.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while the Department of Science and Technology met on Wednesday with representatives of Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology that developed Sputnik V, the government was still in talks with 16 other drug makers and nine others that were part of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility.
On top of that, the Philippines will also join the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial on Vaccines that will begin in October.
“All of these are being explored. Our government is now exploring every opportunity where we can join in clinical trials. We are not very specific with the Russian vaccine. We are looking at and mapping [every candidate vaccine] worldwide that can benefit our countrymen,” Vergeire said.
But Vergeire said that Filipino experts would still have to see the complete dossier on candidate vaccines.
“We will still go through this regulatory process that we have so that we can ensure that this vaccine will be safe for our citizens,” she said.
“We must understand that some vaccines have different effects [on] different ethnic groups. That is evidence-based. This is why our vaccine experts want it tested in our local setting to ascertain that it’s really safe, based on our ethnicity,” Vergeire added.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself said he would volunteer to join the Phase 3 clinical trial for Sputnik V, to be funded by Russia, that will be held in the country from October 2020 to March 2021, after which the Food and Drug Administration will decide on its approval for commercial use.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Metro Manila residents could qualify for the Sputnik trials.
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