DOH ‘open’ to potential conduct of clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines on children

Published June 11, 2021, 6:10 PM

by Analou de Vera

A health worker prepares to administer Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination site in Parañaque City on May 18, 2021. (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

The Department of Health (DOH) said it is “open” on the idea of holding clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines on Filipino children.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the DOH and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as well as local health experts are currently discussing the matter.

“Yes we are open to that. Kung matatandaan ninyo nung naguumpisa po yung mga clinical trials para sa mga bakuna last year, sabi natin diba, na ang bakuna maaring magkaroon ng epekto sa bawat race (Yes we are open to that. If you remember when the clinical trials for vaccines started last year, we said that it could have different effects on every race),” said Vergeire.

“So, maganda talaga kung meron tayong sarili natin na test or clinical trials na isasagawa para sa ating mga kabataan (So, it’s really good if we have our own test or clinical trials to be done for our young children),” she added.

Vergeire said that some vaccine manufacturers already expressed their intention of conducting clinical trials.

“There are these intent coming from some manufacturers to have clinical trials for children here. Titingnan natin kung ito ay matutuloy at kung paano natin ito gagawin (We will see if this pushes through and how we can do it),” she added.

Not yet included in priority sector

The DOH, meanwhile, said it is not yet recommending to include children in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccination program.

“Tayo ay pinag-aaralan lahat yan with our group of experts, of course, but right now our position— until the supplies are here we cannot recommend the children being included in our priorities for vaccination,” said Vergeire.

On Wednesday, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) agreed with the national government’s position to follow for now the priority list.

“[We] acknowledge that children may be vaccinated with any duly approved COVID-19 vaccine; however, given the limited vaccine supply, both PPS and PIDSP recommend that the older and more vulnerable age groups be prioritized,” the two groups said in a joint statement.

It also said that “more data on the safety profile of the vaccines should also be made available and considered before implementing large-scale pediatric COVID-19 vaccination.”