Health advocate optimistic COVID-19 vaccine will be available by end-2020, but thorough review needed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11)— A public health advocate on Tuesday expressed optimism that a much-awaited vaccine for COVID-19 may be available by December.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, former COVID-19 task force special adviser Dr. Tony Leachon welcomed the offers of countries like Russia and China to share a virus vaccine with the Philippines, saying “multi-sourcing” will prove to be beneficial in the long run.

“I’m optimistic. Kasi dadagdag ‘to dun sa mga bakunang lalabas (because these will add to the other vaccines that will come out) from other markets,” Leachon said in an interview with The Source, citing products being developed by big-name global companies such as Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, among others.

Dapat multiple ‘yung options natin. Because alam naman natin iyang supply chain will not be accomplished… Multi-sourcing ang kailangan natin dito,” he added.

[Translation: We should have mutiple options. Because we know the supply chain will not be accomplished. We need multi-sourcing.]

Leachon’s sentiment mirrors President Rodrigo Duterte’s  for the coronavirus will be developed by the end of the year.

The chief executive earlier floated the possibility that China may be among the first countries to complete its research and development, with Beijing assuring the Philippines of priority access once vaccines are already available.

Duterte, in his address to the nation late Monday night, expressed confidence that the latest vaccine offer from Russia will also prove to be effective, volunteering himself to be the first person to try the product.

China and Russia are among the countries participating in the race for a global vaccine for the mysterious coronavirus. Candidate vaccines from the United States and the United Kingdom have likewise entered late-stage trials, but developers stressed the timeline for their rollout will still depend on data.

Leachon, who’s also had several years of work experience for a multi-national pharmaceutical firm, stressed the need for a review of the clinical trials once they come in the country.

Kung mag-uumpisa tayo sa Russian and Chinese, dapat repasuhin ho yan ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration) together with pharmacologists and infectious disease experts. And then sana ‘yung kanilang clinical trials ay ma-translate into English para maaral po natin bago maibigay sa ating mga kababayan,” Leachon said.

[Translation: If we will start with the Russian and Chinese vaccines, the FDA should thoroughly review these together with pharmacologists and infectious disease experts. And hopefully, the clinical trials can be translated to English so we can study them before giving them to Filipinos.]