(July 08, 2020) – At least eight vaccine candidates from around 20 that are undergoing clinical trials have shown promise against COVID-19, local medical experts confirmed with the health department on Wednesday.
Of these vaccine candidates being developed by the United Kingdom, United States, China, and India, two have been considered for clinical trials with the Philippines.
“Less than 10 ang bakuna pwedeng maging epektibo according to the World Health Organization, depende kung saan pwedeng magamit,” said Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health, Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved collaborations with the Chinese Academy of Science-Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Sinopharm: Wuhan Institute and Beijing Biological Institute, and Sinovac Biotech LTD.
It also partnered with Taiwanese firms Adimmune Corp. and Academia Sinica.
The tentative timeline for these trials may start on October 2020 until March 2021, and may be extended until September 2021.
At least five hospitals were identified as initial vaccine trial sites due to high infections: Philippine General Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Manila Doctors Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital in Metro Manila, and the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.
The Philippines is now finishing regulatory requirements to set up the sites, pass ethics review, and screen patients, before the vaccine would be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Kailangan maipakita ng bakuna na ligtas at mabisa ito under natural disease condition. Pwede na itong marehistro at mabigyan ng lisensya para magamit nang mawalakan sa publiko,” said Dr. Nina Gloriani, chairperson of the DOST vaccine expert panel.
Among those who started phase III, or the late-stage human trials, are China’s Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm, and UK’s AstraZeneca.
The alliance between the British drugmaker and the University of Oxford has advanced from early small-scale testing on humans to a trial campaign with tens of thousands of volunteers.
Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo said he has reached out to secure a supply of the vaccine candidate.
At least three more have published data from early stage human trials, such as the US’ Moderna, China’s Cansino Biologics, and the US’ Inovio Pharmaceuticals.
The Philippines has ongoing discussions with the World Health Organization (WHO) for participation in Solidarity trial for the COVID-19 vaccine.
DOST though is not discounting local treatments against COVID-19.
Montoya said there are two trials for virgin coconut oil. One is a community-based trial in Laguna to treat those with mild symptoms. Another is being planned at the PGH to see if it can be used with hospitalized patients.
“Titignan kung makakadagdag ang VCO para magkaproteksyon o malabanan ang COVID,” Montoya said, “Titignan kung makatutulong itong karagdagang gamot sa mga iba pang binibigay sa kanila.”
Experts are also studying the effect of tawa-tawa leaves. Montoya said this was just passed the ethics review board, and are waiting approval for the trial to start.
The government is also looking at the supplement melatonin, which was also approved by the ethics board. The site preparations at the Manila Doctors Hospital is expected to begin in the next few days.
On Tuesday, the DOH recorded 47,873 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 34,178 considered to be active. The daily case bulletin, which was usually provided at 4pm, will now be given later at 8pm this Wednesday. (Katrina Elaine Alba/AGD)
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