Cebu City halts vaccine trial | Inquirer News
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Cebu City halts vaccine trial

/ 04:40 AM October 20, 2021

CEBU CITY—Acting Mayor Michael Rama has suspended the clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine conducted by a Chinese firm in this city.

Rama said WestVac Biopharma R&D from Sichuan in China did not coordinate with the city government before proceeding with the trial. “I didn’t even know about it. I just read about it in the newspapers and it really caught me by surprise,” he said.

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“There has to be a formal agreement because the city might be held answerable if something bad happens to those who took part in the clinical trial,” he added.

Rama, citing the Local Government Code, said any project involving national agencies must have the concurrence of the mayor and the city council.

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Lacking coordination

He asked the city’s Emergency Operations Center, the City Health Department and the Cebu City police to get all the details regarding the clinical trials conducted by WestVac.

“As far as the city government is concerned, we don’t recognize it. I am officially telling whoever they are to stop what they are doing,” Rama said.

Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, earlier said he was told that the Chinese firm got permission from the DOH central office in Manila.

However, WestVac also did not coordinate with the DOH regional office, Bernadas said.

Safety assurance

WestVac, in a statement, assured the safety of those who participated in the study.

“The study team conducts clinical research in a manner that recognizes the importance of protecting the safety and respecting research participants,” it said.

“All research participants have the right to withdraw from continued participation in the clinical trial at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which they are otherwise entitled,” it added.

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Councilor David Tumulak, who first learned of the clinical trial in Cebu City, said participants informed him that they were paid P2,500 to P5,000 each whenever they passed the screening.

WestVac said the research participants were informed, through the consent form, that they would receive meal and transportation allowances.

“The study team also made the research participants aware that they do not have to participate in the study and that it is fully voluntary. If they decide not to participate, they are well informed that it will not affect any relationships they have with the researcher and/or the facility,” it said.

—NESTLE SEMILLA INQ

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Cebu City, COVID-19, Trial, Vaccination, WestVac
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