Preparations for COVID-19 vaccine trials underway

Ample preparations are being done by the country's Vaccine Expert Panel chaired by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), World Health Organization (WHO) PH Vaccine Team, and the Department of Health (DOH) Vaccine Communication teams as the WHO Solidarity Trial for Vaccines nears.

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (TOTO LOZANO/ Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, in his weekly report, said preparations discussed by the teams include the creation of a timeline of activities for COVID-19 vaccine trials campaign, data sharing arrangements, and laboratory procedure(s) for sample collection, processing, and cryopreservation, which was sent by the WHO-Philippines.

In an online forum with DOH on Friday, the secretary said that the WHO may release the list of vaccines and protocols for the Solidarity trial for Vaccines by next month.

DOST is funding the local implementation of the P89.1-million WHO Solidarity Trial.

The project’s main implementor is the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) with Dr. Jodor Lim as the overall principal investigator. Eleven hospitals will serve as trial sites of the project.

On September 3, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved through Resolution No. 68 the zoning guideline for the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials as recommended by the Sub-TWG on Vaccine Development through the assistance of the DOST Vaccine Expert Panel.

The guideline is being issued to avoid competition for clinical trial sites among vaccine developers. The DOST, as sub-TWG chair, will also form a separate Data and Safety Monitoring Committee whose role will be important in monitoring the safety of the vaccines under the WHO Solidarity Trials while the study is ongoing.

A comprehensive communication plan has also been developed by the DOH Health Promotion and Communication Office with the help of DOST, Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB), PGH and other concerned agencies to inform the general public about the trials; promote transparency, cautious optimism, global cooperation, volunteerism and ownership, and ethics in relation to the upcoming clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines.