The Philippines’ participation in the global search for COVID-19 vaccine will not only ensure a secured portion of the vaccine supply for the country, but more likely be given for free, according to a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official.
“Unang-una, tayo po ay nag-commit na sa Solidarity Trial na gagawin ng WHO (World Health Organization). So, sa pagkakaalam po namin, ang bakuna ay malamang ibibigay nang walang bayad,” said DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development executive director Dr. Jaime Montoya in an online media briefing on Wednesday.
[Translation: First of all, we have committed to the WHO Solidarity Trial. So, to our knowledge, the vaccine will likely be given for free.]
He went on to clarify that other expenses needed to provide vaccination in communities will likely be shouldered by the DOST and the Department of Health.
The Philippines is among the participating nations in the global clinical trial seeking to find a vaccine for the viral disease. Montoya said partaking in the trial will ensure that the country has access to the vaccine, as well as secure “a shorter and easier route in registration with the Philippine Food and Drugs Administration.”
Experts eyeing 8 candidate vaccines
In the same press briefing, Dr. Nina Gloriani, a professor at the University of the Philippines – Manila, said there are eight candidate vaccines that are showing more potential than others.
This number is out of around 20 that are currently under phases one to three of the clinical trials being done across the globe, according to Gloriani.
Particularly standing out, she said, are the vaccines being developed by companies in the United Kingdom, the United States, China, and India.
“Kasama po dyan sa walo na ‘yan ‘yung kino-consider natin na syang it-test sa Pilipinas. Ito ‘yung dalawa sa China na na-mention kanina na in-approve ng IATF,” she said.
[Translation: Included in those eight are those that we are considering to test in the Philippines. These are the two from China, which were approved by the IATF and which I earlier mentioned.]
The Inter-agency Task Force for COVID-19 earlier approved collaborations for vaccine trials with five vaccine developers, three of which are based in China. These include the Chinese Academy of Science – Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the SinoPharm’s Wuhan Institute and Beijing Biologicals Institute, and the Sinovac – Biotech Ltd.
Apart from the five, Gloriani said the Philippines continues to connect with international collaborators and vaccine companies with promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
PH trials for COVID-19 supplementary treatments
Meanwhile, Montoya said the country’s clinical trials on the use of melatonin as a supplementary treatment for COVID-19 patients is expected to start in the next few days.
According to Montoya, the DOST is just finishing the preparation of the site at the Manila Doctors Hospital, as well as in two to three more hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu City.
Trial on the possible benefits of virgin coconut oil (VCO), meanwhile, is ongoing in Laguna for patients with mild symptoms, he said. Currently, the VCO’s efficacy is being tested in 17 patients, and another VCO trial will be done in the Philippine General Hospital.
As for the trials for the traditional herbal medicine tawa-tawa, Montoya said the agency is just awaiting the decision of the Single Joint Research Ethics Board, after it recently received approval from the Ethics Review Board to start the project.