Chinese vaccine needs thorough scrutiny by Filipino experts –UP physician

Published October 26, 2020, 9:55 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The potential coronavirus vaccine developed by China must be thoroughly scrutinized by local medical experts to check its safety and efficacy before its public distribution in the country, a health professional said Monday.

Dr. Lulu Bravo, founding president and executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, pressed for close scrutiny on the research data related to Chinese vaccine after admitting that she has hardly seen a Chinese-made vaccine for other illnesses used in the country.

“The thing is we should rely on the scientific data that will be produced. Hindi ko naman sinasabing masama iyong Chinese vaccine (But I’m not saying the Chinese vaccine is bad). Ang sinasabi ko is until such time that we can and the experts will be able to really—hihimay-himayin iyan, titingnan nila maganda ba talaga iyan (What I’m saying is until such time that we can and the experts will be able to really scrutinize it, look if it is really good),” she said during an online Palace press briefing.

“As of now I know for a fact that ang advance in phase 3 studies eh iyong Pfizer at Moderna at even the people there at CNN ‘pag nakikinig ka, eh iyon talaga ang may magandang transparent ‘di ba? We need to be transparent,” she added.

Bravo, a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Manila-College of Medicine, noted that the country has so far used vaccines mostly produced in the United States, Europe, and even India. 

“Hindi pa tayo nagkakaroon ng ginagamit nating bakuna galing sa China. Wala pa akong masyadong nakitang bakuna na ginamit natin dito sa Pilipinas in the last so many years na galing sa China. Karamihan galing sa Amerika, sa Europa, sa—maski sa India ginamit natin (We have not used vaccines from China. I have not really seen a vaccine used in the Philippines in the last so many years that came from China. Most of the vaccines came from America, Europe and even India),” she said.

“Gusto ko talagang makita na maganda ang kanilang studies bago natin sabihing safe na iyan para ibigay kay Presidente. Kailangan natin ang Presidente natin na nasa tamang health (I want to see how good their studies are before we can say the vaccine is safe to give the President. We need a President in good health),” she added.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier sought Bravo’s advice for the President who was eagerly awaiting to take a coronavirus vaccine shot. 

Of the 204 potential coronavirus vaccines being developed around the world, Bravo said 10 vaccines have reached phase 3 of the clinical trials participated in by thousands of volunteers. At least six potential COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for limited use by countries like Russia and China.

Around 156 potential vaccines are still in pre-clinical phase that means they are not yet being tested on humans. Nineteen drugs reached phase 1 trial while 13 are now on phase two study, according to Bravo.

Bravo explained that even if COVID vaccine will be approved by medical authorities abroad, the drug must still undergo regulatory approval by the country’s Food and Drug Authority (FDA).

“Hanggang hindi inaaprubahan ng FDA, hindi natin puwedeng gamitin. So FDA talaga ang number one diyan – final approval (If it is not approved by the FDA, it cannot be used here. So FDA is the main authority that has final approval),” she said.

“Sana naman magtitiwala rin tayo na mayroon silang eksperto sa FDA at mga scientist na titingin at mag-o-observe niyan at magbibigay ng kanilang recommendation kung aaprubahan iyan (I hope we will trust our experts at FDA and other scientists who will check, observe, and give their recommendation if it will be approved),” she said.

Bravo also proposed the creation of an independent advisory group that will recommend on the use of vaccines in the country. She said the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group will be composed of multidisciplinary scientists and experts to help guide the vaccine use.

Roque asked Bravo to make a video proposal on the matter, which will then be submitted to the President for review.