DOST budget to fund PH participation in WHO Solidarity Trials for COVID-19 treatment

Published June 21, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling 

The government has committed to set aside funds for the country’s participation in the “Solidarity Trials” launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) to find an effective treatment for the new coronavirus disease.

The Philippines has also asked for equitable access to the global vaccine supply as it agreed to participate in the WHO-led clinical trials based on the latest resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases.

Amid the unprecedented threat of the deadly disease, the WHO recently launched a massive study to search for potential coronavirus treatment by comparing different methodologies across the world. The coronavirus has so far infected more than 8.7 people across the world and left 464,000 dead based on the global tracking by Johns Hopkins University. In the Philippines, the confirmed cases have soared to 29,400 while the deaths reached 1,150 as of June 20.

Under Resolution No. 47, the IATF said the fund allocation for the WHO-led vaccine trials will be included in the proposed budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for next year.

It has adopted the recommendation on “the allocation of the necessary funding for the participation in the said trials to be proposed in the 2021 budget of the DOST.” It however did not state the budget amount for the vaccine trials.

This is among the three recommendations of a sub-Technical Working Group on Vaccine Development recently endorsed by the IATF “as part of the efforts of the government to partake in the global action in developing a vaccine for COVID-19.” The task force held a virtual meeting last June 19.

In the same resolution, the IATF has expressed support for “the participation of the Philippines in the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial for a COVID-19 vaccine provided that the Philippines will have an equitable access and a secured portion on the eventual global vaccine supply.”

The task force also endorsed the creation of a separate panel to provide technical support for local pharmaceutical companies. The body will be placed under the sub-Technical Working Group on Vaccine Development.

As of June 10, President Duterte said there are 260 patient-participants from the 24 hospitals that are participating in the WHO Solidarity Trials. The data about the clinical trial was included in the President’s 12th weekly report to Congress last Monday.

The President, in the same report, said the DOST has approved a P9.8 million project for the conduct of clinical trials of the efficacy of high dose of melatonin as “adjuvant or supplementary treatment for COVID-19 patients with pneumonia.” Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug that helps ease sleep disorders.

According to the President, a team from the Medical Doctors Hospital will conduct the project for four months. At least 350 patients will take part in the trials.

“Results of the project are expected to contribute to national and international guidelines on life-saving drugs and therapy that can impact mortality in COVID-19 pneumonia patients,” he said.

The government earlier announced its collaboration with five foreign institutions in the vaccine research and development. The institutions are Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science – Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, and SinoPharma–Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Beijing Institute.

The President earlier said the coronavirus threat would linger until a vaccine is found and made available in the market. He has expressed optimism about the global race for vaccine to save lives amid the pandemic.