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DOST prepares for vaccine clinical trials

THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST), as the lead agency of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s sub-technical working group on vaccine development, is currently preparing for World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Trial for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

In a taped DOST report aired Friday afternoon, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said he believes the clinical trials would start soon.

The DOST would ensure the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, he said.

We also want to be transparent to everyone,” de la Peña added.

DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development executive director Jaime Montoya reported that there were already three players which submitted the requirements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), indicating their interest to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines.

These three are the Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia, Janssen, and Sinovac.

Several hospital sites are also preparing for the WHO Solidarity Trial, according to Montoya. These include hospitals in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao.

We are also planning for a dry run, to test our readiness for the (COVID-19 vaccine) clinical trials. This will be in close coordination with the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), and the (Bureau of) Customs,” Montoya said.

Coordination with the DILG is needed since the clinical trials would require the cooperation of communities. Coordination with Customs, on the other hand, is necessary for the vaccines’ storage requirements, he explained.

There will be zoning or places assigned to specific vaccines to avoid overlapping. The local governments will assist in the conduct of trials, such as transporting the patients, and other support to implement the clinical trial in their barangays,” Montoya said in a text message.

Meanwhile, Montoya said it normally takes five years to produce a vaccine. However, people are attempting to produce the COVID-19 vaccine in one year or even less.

Because of this, we are targeting a 50 percent efficacy rate. This means that if (a vaccine is found to be) 50 percent effective, it already passed (the test), and we will move on to the next vaccine to be tested. We would also see if there are side effects,” he said. Philippine News Agency