Published on August 11, 2020 | Dhel Nazario, Manila Bulletin
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday their commitment to fund and support the country’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Vaccine Trial as part of the efforts in joining the global action in developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
“We are in close collaboration with WHO to intensify our preparations for the Solidarity Vaccine Trial, including the identification of trial sites in the country. In addition, we are continuously monitoring several vaccine candidates with the technical help from the Vaccine Expert Panel,” said Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, Chair of the sub-Technical Working Group (TWG) on Vaccine Development and DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development.
DOST- Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) said that the Solidarity Vaccine Trial will ensure prompt, efficient, and reliable evaluation of the safety and efficacy of the many SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates currently being developed worldwide. To date, over 100 countries have expressed interest to participate in this large-scale vaccine trial.
The Philippines’ participation in the trial was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as recommended by the Sub-TWG on Vaccine Development led by DOST.
Two weeks ago, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced that the agency has nominated a representative to be part of the WHO COVID-19 candidate vaccine prioritization working group which aims to identify the vaccines to be included in the upcoming WHO Solidarity Vaccine Trials.
Dela Pena said during his weekly report that the agency has nominated Dr. Nina Gloriani, Professor Emeritus at the University of the Philippines-Manila.
The secretary said that the DOST Vaccine Expert Panel created to assist the Sub-TWG on Vaccine Trials is continuously holding meetings with companies willing to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines.
Last June, DOST and PCHRD discussed its plans to capacitate local vaccine manufacturing in the country if clinical trial results are favorable.
“The DOST has been in touch with several international partner institutions to collaborate on vaccine development so that we can participate in their clinical trials, as the country doesn’t have the capacity yet to develop vaccines on its own,” said DOST Undersecretary Guevara said.
“Locally, we hope that the local pharmaceutical industry is open to the opportunity of capacitating our country in vaccines, not just for this pandemic, but to prepare for the future as well,” DOST Secretary de la Peña added.
To give participants ideas on international discussions on COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Gloriani presented the list of best vaccine candidates, the status of development, and vaccine platforms of nine international partners which expressed interest in conducting clinical trials in the country.
As part of DOST’s business propositions to pharmaceutical industries, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of DOST- PCHRD stressed that the government will provide support to the private sector’s conduct of clinical trials and assistance in product registration for pharma groups.
“The Philippines will be dependent on global supply of vaccines if it will not be developed locally, so to get hold early, it will be beneficial for the country to require a license to manufacture for local pharmaceutical industries and to meet the local demand for vaccines,” said Dr. Montoya.