China firm hurdles review panel on vaccine trial
Clover, which is conducting its phase one clinical trials in Australia, still needs clearance from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it can commence clinical trials in the country.
Philstar.com/Irish Lising, file

China firm hurdles review panel on vaccine trial

Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese drugmaker Clover Biopharmaceuticals may soon conduct clinical trials for its COVID-19 vaccine in the country after it secured clearances from both the technical panel of vaccine experts and the ethics review board, Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said.

In an interview with ‘The Chiefs’ aired on One News/TV5 on Friday night, De la Peña said the Chinese firm was the first to secure both clearances among those that expressed interest in conducting clinical trials in the country.

Clover, which is conducting its phase one clinical trials in Australia, still needs clearance from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it can commence clinical trials in the country.

Another Chinese firm, Sinovac Biotech, has already passed scrutiny of the technical panel but has yet to obtain clearance from the ethics board, with De la Peña saying “there were comments that they have not yet answered.”

According to the official, two other companies have passed the ethics review board but have yet to hurdle the expert panel: AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom and Janssen of the United States.

De la Peña said other firms are in different stages of the application to conduct clinical trials in the country, including those from Russia, Australia and Taiwan.

Two firms leading the development of vaccine – Moderna and Pfizer – have not applied for clearance to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines.

He clarified that conducting local clinical trials is not a requirement for being authorized to bring the vaccines to the country.

“Those that did not express interest in clinical trials here are probably confident that they will pass our FDA even without passing through clinical trials here,” he added.

The UK earlier granted emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

In the Philippines, the government and the private sector have signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for the supply of 2.6 million doses of vaccine for COVID-19.

Officials including De la Peña, however, clarified that the deal would be cancelled if the vaccine fails to secure approval from the FDA.

During the interview, the science department chief also touted developments in studies on possible food supplements to manage symptoms of COVID-19.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday said a study that evaluated the effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) showed that it reduced symptoms among suspect and probable COVID-19 cases.

The study – which involved 57 patients at two isolation units in Santa Rosa, Laguna – showed that those who received VCO recovered from infection or inflammation approximately 14 days after being subjected to the intervention.

De la Peña said there are discussions on conducting further studies to look into the effects of VCO on those with comorbidities. He also noted the possibility of replicating the study in other countries.

He said the trials for lagundi and tawa-tawa as possible supplement for suspect and probable COVID-19 cases are also ongoing.

COVID-19 VACCINE
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