WHO considering 3 Covid-19 vaccines in solidarity trials — DOST
MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering three Covid-19 vaccines for its solidarity trials, but the date on when this activity would commence remains uncertain, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Friday.
“We were told that they [WHO] are down to three choices of vaccines and we will know soon kung kailan po mag-uumpisa itong trials [when the trials would start],” DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said in an online press briefing, but did not disclose which vaccines are being considered by the WHO.
According to Guevara, the occurrence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 and other factors in the vaccines have contributed to the delay in the conduct of solidarity trials.
She said the country’s team for the solitary trials is ready and has been preparing for the activity since September last year.
“We have been in touch with the WHO solidarity vaccine trials global lead and we were informed that the vaccine selection from their end still has to be finalized,” she added.
“Malaki ang naging epekto kasi nitong paglabas ng variants at nakita din nila ‘yung mahirap kapag double dose ang ating mga vaccines [The occurrence of variants had a large effect and they saw that using double dose vaccines would be difficult], so they are trying to find better alternatives to the vaccines that are available,” she added.
As for preparations for the trials in the Philippines, Guevara said one of the challenges is the increased requirement in the number of staff for the initiative due to the increased number of trial sites and participants.
She noted that Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila are also changing, causing difficulty in identifying the final list of trial sites.
“The study vaccines are not yet released by the WHO including the final trial protocols and standard operating procedures, causing delay in the implementation of the trial,” she added.
Currently, available Covid-19 vaccines are only being administered through emergency use authorization (EUA), which allows the limited use of vaccines that are deemed safe and effective based on review of interim data of Phase 3 clinical trials.
Guevara reiterated that the EUA is different from a product registration, which is being issued for new and approved vaccines that were proven safe and effective based on review of complete data from Phase 3 trials.
Outside the WHO solidarity trials, there are also vaccine manufacturers that have applied to conduct their independent clinical trials in the Philippines.
Guevara said Belgium-based Janssen Pharmaceuticals has already started its phase 3 clinical trials in the country, while trial site preparations are ongoing for Chinese firms Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Sinovac Biotech.
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