DOH: WHO solidarity trial on candidate vaccines for coronavirus may begin in October

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The World Health Organization-led solidarity trials on potential coronavirus vaccines in the country may start by the end of October, the Department of Health said Friday.

The WHO solidarity team is targeting to decide on the third or fourth week of September which among the 34 vaccine candidates will be tested for safety in the clinical studies, Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media forum.

“Kung ano lang ang karapat dapat ang isasama nila,” she added.

[Translation: Only those which are deserving will be included in the trials.]

She added that the WHO has not yet provided the names of the manufacturers of the candidate vaccines being considered for the studies.

The group from the WHO is also eyeing to identify sites for the medical research, which would need participants from areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates, on the last week of October.

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena said Thursday that the government already identified eight zones for the solidarity vaccine trials. Six are in Metro Manila, one is in Calabarzon and another one in Cebu.

The DOH clarified in a statement issued after Vergeire’s briefing that the timeline of the vaccine research is tentative as it may change depending on several factors.

“It is the WHO that will primarily determine adjustments and changes,” the DOH said.

Five firms developing a coronavirus vaccine have signed an agreement that will allow the Philippines to access the data of their research, but only four companies are looking to hold clinical trials in the country, DOST said. These are Seqirus from Australia, Sinovac and Sinopharm from China, Gamaleya from Russia, and Adimmune from Taiwan. Sinopharm is not interested in conducting Phase 3 of its medical research in the Philippines to finish this critical stage early.

But DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the trial spearheaded by the WHO is the country's priority over independent clinical trials.