WHO solidarity vaccine trials in PH may start in June – DOST official

Published May 25, 2021, 1:06 PM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

The World Health Organization (WHO) solidarity trials on coronavirus vaccines in the Philippines is expected to begin next month, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said Tuesday, May 25.

(Photo by Orlando Sierra / AFP / FILE PHOTO)

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra said the solidarity trials will be funded by the Philippine government through the DOST and the Department of Health (DOH).

“Ini-expect natin na mag-umpisa yung sa WHO solidarity vaccine trials mga by June (We expect the WHO solidarity vaccine trials to begin by June),” Guevarra said in a public briefing.

For the clinical trials, Guevarra explained that volunteers from areas with high rates of infections will be recruited. They will then undergo protocols approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the country’s Ethics Review Board.

“Ang gusto nilang malaman ay yung safety at saka yung efficacy nitong ating mga iba’t-ibang brands ng bakuna (What they want to know is the safety and also the efficacy of various brands of vaccines),” she said.

Guevarra said the WHO is working with local government units for the recruitment of participants for the vaccine clinical trials.

To check on the developments of the trials, she said the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection will form a data and safety monitoring committee to monitor the safety of the use of vaccines during the clinical trials.

According to the DOH, there are no guidelines from WHO yet regarding which vaccines will be used and studied in the solidarity trials.

Meanwhile, Guevarra said there are currently three approved vaccine clinical trials by the private sector for vaccines developed by Belgium-based Janssen and Chinese firms’ Sinovac and Clover.

She said the independent clinical trials for the three vaccines, which are funded by its manufacturers, are currently ongoing. The trials will determine if the vaccines are effective and safe.

According to Guevarra, the country’s participation in the clinical trials is important in order to provide data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and to get the data on the long-term effects of using the jabs.

“Sa pamamagitan ng clinical trials, malalamin rin natin kung kinakailangan bang magsagawa ng follow-up vaccination kada taon (Through the clinical trials, we will also determine if follow-up vaccination is needed every year),” she said.

Moreover, she said the trials will also find out if it is necessary to tweak the dosing schedule of the vaccines in order to improve its effectivity especially against the new coronavirus variants.