WHO COVID-19 vaccine trial in Philippines may start in January — DOST
In this file photo a flu vaccine is administered at a walk-up Covid-19 testing site, November 24, 2020, in San Fernando, California, just northeast of the city of Los Angeles.
AFP/Robyn Beck

WHO COVID-19 vaccine trial in Philippines may start in January — DOST

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 4, 2020 - 3:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — The large scale clinical trial of coronavirus vaccine candidates led by the World Health Organization may start in the Philippines in January, the Department of Science and Technology said Friday.

The so-called solidarity trial for COVID-19 vaccines was initially scheduled to begin in the country by end-October.

Dr. Nina Gloriani, a member of the steering committee for the solidarity trial, said WHO has not come up with a list of vaccines that would be used for the international clinical evaluation because “they are very careful in choosing which one [to prioritize].”

“That makes maybe the possible start of solidarity vaccine trial in the Philippines by early or mid-January 2021,” Gloriani, who also leads the country’s vaccine expert panel, said in a briefing.

“Actually this also allows us more time to prepare very well for the actual implementation,” she added.

Gloriani said at least two vaccine candidates may be initially included in the WHO solidarity trial although there are still “certain issues” with those vaccines that need to be resolved. While she refused to name the two vaccines, Gloriani said the country’s vaccine expert panel has studied them.

Hospital, community sites

The vaccine solidarity trial is a large international randomized controlled clinical trial, which enables the simultaneous evaluation of the benefits and risks of various vaccines at areas with sufficiently high rates of the disease.

The Philippine government has allocated P89 million for the WHO-led trial.

Below is the list of participating hospitals:

  • Philippine General Hospital (lead hospital)
  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Manila Doctor’s Hospital
  • San Lazaro Hospital
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center-Bonifacio Global City
  • Lung Center of the Philippines
  • The Medical City
  • Makati Medical Center
  • De La Salle Medical Center-HSC in Cavite
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
  • Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City

The government also has so far identified 25 barangays as trial sites. These areas were chosen for having attack rates of more than 1% or have consistent infections over the past four to six weeks. 

Below is the list of community sites as of November 30.

  • Manila: 94, 395, 666, 667, 668, 697, 699
  • Pasay: 36, 74, 76, 150
  • Taguig: Fort Bonifacio
  • Itogon, Benguet: Virac, Poblacion Central
  • Tuba, Benguet: Camp 3
  • Baguio: Legarda, Burnham, Aurora Hill, Sta. Escolastica, City Camp Proper
  • Davao: Agdao, 27C, 32D, 12B

Trial sites may change depending on the status of infections in those areas.

“We don't know how this will change over time but it's [based] not just the number of cases but if they've been consistent for the past four to six weeks,” Gloriani said.

She added that laboratory requirements for the trial such as cold chain storage, reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction testing quality assurance, blood sample collection and supplies are being completed.

As of Thursday, the Philippines reported 435,413 COVID-19 cases with 8,446 deaths. 

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