DOST: Janssen seen to start vaccine trials this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 4) — Clinical trials for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine will begin this week, the Department of Science and Technology said Thursday.

"Ang nadinig ko pong plano ay...mukhang mauuna ang Janssen, at within this week ay mag-uumpisa na sila. 'Yun namang iba pa...ay either February or March," DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said during the Laging Handa briefing.

[Translation: The plan I heard is...that it seems Janssen will go first, and they will start within this week. The others will start...either in February or March.]

The Janssen vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to hold local clinical trials last year. It was developed by the Belgium-based firm Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is owned by the U.S. multinational company Johnson & Johnson.

The other companies De la Peña was referring to were Chinese companies Clover and Sinovac.

De la Peña said clinical trials are still part of Phase 3 testing and could last for just one month "or even less."

"Yung mga kausap natin ay mga nasa Phase 3 trials, at yung vaccine clinical trials ay makakadagdag para sa kanilang datos sa efficacy...Itong paggawa ng vaccine trials dito sa atin ay makatutulong para ho sa kanila na vaccine developer... At sa atin naman ay makabubuti rin dahil malalaman nating kung ano ang epekto sa Pilipino o sa ating ethnic group," he added.

[Translation: The ones we have been talking to are in Phase 3 trials, and these trials will add to their data on efficacy...Holding clinical trials here will help vaccine developers... And this will help us as well because we will know how they affect Filipinos or our ethnic group.]

De la Peña said testing is done in places where there is a high incidence of COVID-19 cases, which should be consistently high over the last two weeks before the start of clinical trials.

He said a list of possible sites has been given to vaccine developers.

" lang kung sila'y mag-uumpisa na, kung alin 'yung the best according to the data of the epidemiology bureau," he said, adding that they cannot disclose the sites because of a confidentiality disclosure agreement.

[Translation: We are just waiting for data from the epidemiology bureau to determine where they can best start.]

Participants in the trials will be chosen by the vaccine companies. De la Peña said they hired research organizations — Filipino companies experienced in vaccine trials — for the purpose.

Should participants experience any adverse reactions, De la Peña said they will be the responsibility of the vaccine company.

On the subject of the World Health Organization solidarity trials, De la Peña said they would be meeting on Friday to hopefully get "more definite news."