WHO COVID-19 vaccine trial seen to start in December
In this file photo Dr. Nita Patel, Director of Antibody discovery and Vaccine development, lifts a vial with a potential coronavirus, Covid-19, vaccine at Novavax labs in Gaithersburg, Maryland on March 20, 2020, one of the labs developing a vaccine for the coronavirus, COVID-19.
AFP/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
WHO COVID-19 vaccine trial seen to start in December
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - October 26, 2020 - 12:42pm

MANILA, Philippines Updated 6:24 p.m.) — The clinical trial of candidate vaccines against coronavirus disease led by the World Health Organization will start in December, the Department of Health said Monday.

The vaccine clinical trial was initially scheduled to begin in the country by end-October.

“WHO has announced they would start the trials by December 2020. By November, they will begin in one site and then the different clinical trials in other countries including the Philippines will follow by December of 2020,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. 

More details including the trial sites will be announced within the week, she added. Government officials earlier said that areas with high level of COVID-19 transmission would be identified as trial sites.

The country has allocated P89 million for the WHO-led vaccine trial.

Vaccine recipients under the solidarity trial will be individuals aged between 18 and 60 years old. Excluded from the trial are pregnant women and those with comorbidities.

Delay

Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said he was “disappointed” that the start of the WHO-led solidarity trial for COVID-19 vaccines will be delayed in the country.

“I was rather disappointed when I saw the news that the pilot for the WHO trial will be in the Americas and the trial here will have to be moved to December because we were expecting that when it is already announced, then we can already proceed maybe in a few weeks time with WHO trial here,” de la Peña said in a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

“But anyway, we also have the independent trials that are already in relatively advanced stage of evaluation,” he added.

The vaccine candidate of Chinese drug maker Sinovac Biotech hurdled the initial stage of screening for clinical trials in the country. It is still undergoing the evaluation of the Single Joint Ethics Research Board.

The Philippines is also assessing the application of Russian firm Gamaleya Research Institute and American company Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials in the country.

The DOST chief also said that Australian biotechnology company Vaxine Pty Ltd has expressed interest in conducting a clinical trial of its candidate vaccine in the country.

According to WHO's latest draft landscape of COVID-19 vaccines, there are 44 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation. Of the figure, 10 are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Treatments

Vergeire also said that interferon had been removed from WHO’s trial on COVID-19 treatments after it was found that the drug “did not reduce the mortality among COVID-19 patients.”

Meanwhile, the use of remdesivir will continue because the United Nations health agency wants to gather more data to support initial findings on the antiviral drug, she added.

The Solidarity Trial published interim results on October 15 found that remdesivir along with hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon had “little or no effect” on overall mortality for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to remdesivir as treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The Philippines' COVID-19 caseload reached 371,630 Monday, with 7,039 deaths.

COVID-19 VACCINES NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 28, 2020 - 11:01am

Pharma giants Sanofi and GSK said on July 29, 2020, that they have agreed to supply Britain with up to 60 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement covers a vaccine candidate developed by France's Sanofi in partnership with the UK's GSK and is subject to a "final contract."

This thread collects some of the major developments in the search for a vaccine to ease the new coronavirus pandemic. (Main photo by AFP/Joel Saget)

November 28, 2020 - 11:01am

As a string of Covid-19 vaccines near approval, Frankfurt Airport staff are gearing up to handle the unprecedented logistical challenge of transporting millions of life-saving doses worldwide.

Frankfurt is Europe's largest hub for transporting pharmaceutical goods, and will be key to the success of inoculating millions of people against the deadly coronavirus. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 3:45pm

One of the developers of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine announces that India-based drugmaker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab.

"Hetero, one of India's leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce in India over 100 million doses per year of the world's first registered vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection -– Sputnik V," the Russian Direct Investment Fund says in a statement, adding that production was expected to start in early 2021.

Earlier this week, Russia said interim results from the Sputnik V clinical trails showed the vaccine was 95% effective, similar to other international vaccine makers that have also published test results showing efficacy rates of 90% and higher. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 11:14am

The World Health Organization urges African countries to improve their capacity to vaccinate populations against COVID-19, warning the continent was still "far from ready" for mass immunisation.

With three coronavirus vaccines now showing efficacy rates of 70% or more, the UN body called on Africa to "ramp up" preparations for "the continent's largest ever immunisation drive".

The African region is so far only 33 percent ready to roll out Covid-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization says in a statement. — AFP

November 27, 2020 - 9:34am

The British government says it has asked its independent medicines regulator to assess AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine as part of the formal approval process for the drug to be rolled out by the end of the year.

More than 1.4 million people have died since the novel coronavirus emerged in China late last year, and three drug developers -- Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University -- are currently applying for approval for their vaccines to be used as early as December. 

AstraZeneca has completed Phase III clinical trials of its vaccine, the last stage before regulatory approval. — AFP

November 26, 2020 - 11:53am

Cash-strapped Latin American governments face severe geographical, economic and social challenges in trying to ensure life-saving COVID-19 vaccines are made available to vulnerable populations, experts say. 

Megacities like Sao Paulo, mountain ranges like the Andes as well as the vast Amazon basin pose just a few of the geographical problems for distributors, given the vital need to maintain the cold chain to preserve the vaccines.

Transporting vaccines "to the most distant parts of the big cities and to peripheral neighborhoods, with the need to conserve the cold chain, will be the first major challenge," Colombian epidemiologist Carlos Trillos told AFP.

Governments also face a race against time to provide training to those handling the doses throughout the cold chain, he said. — AFP

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