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Janssen, Clover pushing through with Philippine trials
“There could be other reasons that can be beneficial to them by doing clinical trials here,” Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña told The STAR. A successful completion of the Phase 3 trials, he added, “could lead not just to an EUA (emergency use authorization) but to an
AFP/Yaksin Akgul

Janssen, Clover pushing through with Philippine trials

Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Multinational pharmaceutical giant Janssen and Chinese firm Clover Biopharmaceuticals could still pursue plans to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials for their respective candidate COVID-19 vaccines despite government pronouncements to buy from Chinese firms Sinovac and Sinopharm, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said yesterday.

“There could be other reasons that can be beneficial to them by doing clinical trials here,” he told The STAR.

A successful completion of the Phase 3 trials, he added, “could lead not just to an EUA (emergency use authorization) but to an approval to sell commercially, and not just to government.”

Dela Peña said his
 department would do trial zone identification once the two firms signify their readiness to start the clinical trials.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire meanwhile said that the impact of a vaccine on the data of cases and deaths will not be immediately seen, noting that it may take six months up to one year to know if a vaccine against COVID-19 is effective or not.

The outcome of vaccination in the population, she explained, can be measured in terms of reduction in deaths and reduction of people getting infected. This would also depend on whether the sectors targeted for inoculation were indeed vaccinated, she added.

“Once you vaccinate the target population, you will wait for six months to one year to see if we are able to reduce death and the number of cases,” Vergeire said.

She also appealed to health care workers to let themselves be inoculated against COVID-19 as she underscored that all vaccines to be used in the country will go through stringent regulatory processes.

Vergeire gave assurance that vaccination is voluntary and the vaccinees would be well informed about the benefits and possible side effects. Those who refuse vaccination will be placed at the “bottom” of the list for that particular sector.

“They will decide if they will accept or not. If they say they ‘not yet,’ then they will get to the bottom of the list. We cannot give them the option to choose the vaccine,” she added.

The government is eyeing seven vaccine brands to be used in the country: Novavax in conjunction with Serum Institute of India; AstraZeneca of United Kingdom; Pfizer-BioNTech of the United States-Germany; Janssen of US-Belgium, Moderna of US, Sinovac of China and Sputnik V of Russia’s Gamaleya.

The Philippines will get its first batch of vaccines against COVID-19 from the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility by next month, said Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

These vaccines, he revealed, are those developed and manufactured by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE.

Montoya said the COVAX Facility would provide the vaccines for free to the Philippines because “we are a low, middle income country” and that these would arrive in the country by the third week of February.

Health advocacy groups Citizens Watch and Philippine Alliance of Patient Organization yesterday sought the speedy deployment of vaccines against COVID-19 as they stressed in a joint statement the importance of having full transparency about vaccination negotiations and vaccine prioritization plan.

The groups also underscored the need to speed up vaccine deployment as other countries have already acquired their vaccines.

They maintained it is also “crucial” to have an extensive information campaign to address the “dangerous misconceptions that are causing fears of vaccines to the public.” –  Sheila Crisostomo

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