SPMC tapped to participate in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines

DAVAO CITY – The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has been tapped to participate in the clinical trials of potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in the Philippines.

In a phone interview, Dr. Ricardo Audan, office-in-charge (OIC) medical center chief, revealed that the government-run hospital was identified as one of the trial sites for the conduct of a large-scale Phase 3 of the clinical trials on potential vaccines against COVID-19.

Audan added that he received last week a letter from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), informing him that SPMC has been selected as a trial site.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier confirmed that the Philippines was one of the countries “that will participate in the World Health Organization's Solidarity Trial for Vaccines, a global effort to rapidly develop and evaluate possible candidate vaccines against the COVID-19.”

Audan said the DOST-PCHRD has been tasked to conduct clinical trials for the vaccines.

“The SPMC will be part of the vaccine trial, although it has yet to start,” he said.

He added that the hospital would comply with the requirements of the DOST-PCHRD.

“I presented it during our task force regular meeting at the SPMC. There are several requirements before a hospital could participate but, by principle, we will accept it,” he said.

Audan added that he was confident that SPMC would be able to comply with the requirements just in time for the start of the vaccine trials.

He said the agency has not identified which potential vaccine would be tested in the government-run hospital.

The Gamaleya Research Institute from Russia, Jannsen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson from the United States, and Sinovac from China have applied to do clinical trials in the Philippines.

The 1,500-bed SPMC is the country’s largest government hospital catering to patient-referrals from other regions outside Davao, and is the biggest COVID-19 referral hospital in Mindanao. 

The region’s three COVID-19 referral hospitals are SPMC, Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, and Davao Doctors Hospital’s Dumoy facility in Davao City.

As of October 9, DOH-Davao reported a total of 3,464 COVID cases in the region with 2,753 recoveries and 114 deaths.

Of this total, 2,244 were reported in Davao City, 242 in Davao de Oro, 387 in Davao del Norte, 224 in Davao del Sur, 86 in Davao Occidental, and 281 in Davao Oriental.