Clinical trial of China-made jab in Cebu City alarms exec
CEBU CITY — A councilor in Cebu City has raised concerns over the presence of a Chinese pharmaceutical company that is conducting a clinical trial here for a vaccine against COVID-19.
According to Councilor David Tumulak, representatives of a company called WestVac Biopharma R&D from Sichuan in China have no authority from the city government to hold clinical trials here.
In his privilege speech during the city council session on Wednesday, Tumulak urged the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health (DOH), and the city health department to investigate the matter.
“We received information that some individuals in Cebu City’s coastal villages underwent a clinical trial and were given a pay (of P2,500 to P5,000 each) whenever they passed the screening,” he said.
Tumulak feared the clinical trials would expose residents to danger as the vaccine is unknown to the public.
“I have not even heard about this vaccine,” he said.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the DOH in Central Visayas, on Friday clarified that the Chinese firm got permission from DOH central office in Manila to conduct clinical trial in Cebu. But he did not say when it was approved or if other areas in the country were involved in the trial.
According to Tumulak, he learned that WestVac Biopharma R&D started phase 1 of the clinical trial in China on June 21 and is now in phase 3 with 40,000 participants in Indonesia, Kenya, and the Philippines.
But Tumulak said he only learned that the clinical trial was being done in Cebu after some city residents asked him about the efficacy of the WestVac vaccine.
Some residents, he said, received the WestVac dose on Oct. 9, and were not given a vaccination card authorized by the city government.
The card instead showed that they were participants in a study for the “recombinant COVID-19 vaccine,” or a genetically engineered jab.
Tumulak said among those convinced to participate in the clinical trial were residents in coastal villages.
Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, head of the Cebu City Health Department, said the city should have been informed about the clinical trial to avoid confusion.
“We have been supportive (of) any kind of research because we could not have vaccines without these clinical trials and research. But our simple request is for them to inform the city about it so we can answer queries directed to us,” he said in a media interview on Friday.
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