Gov’t denies inaction on Sinopharm’s clinical trial application

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 1) — The government has denied claims that Chinese vaccine firm Sinopharm sent a letter of request to the Philippines in May last year to hold a clinical trial but received no response.

In a joint statement with the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Science and Technology on Friday, the Department of Health responded to an accusation by a Sinopharm vaccine distributor that it failed to act on documents submitted by the Chinese company.

“The DOH categorically denies these baseless accusations and clarifies that the country’s participation in several clinical trials including that of Sinopharm’s was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) as early as May,” the statement read.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also said in a DZBB interview that he is not aware of the supposed letter of request.

While Sinopharm likewise reached out to the DOST "for a collaboration," the latter said the firm laid out two proposals: either the conduct of its clinical trial will be funded by the Philippines, or the national government will recognize vaccine use authorization from China.

“In response, DOST wrote back to them to say that the Philippines only funds trials under the WHO Solidarity Trial,” the department said. It added that Sinopharm “never responded to this letter.”

Meanwhile, the FDA said Sinopharm has not submitted any application for clinical trials nor emergency use authorization to date.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, two representatives of vaccine distributor MKG Universal Trading Corporation, whose identities were concealed supposedly for security reasons, said the country would have been prioritized by Sinopharm if it weren’t for the stalled documents.

Duque had also earlier been accused of messing up the deal brokered by Philippine and United States diplomats for the country to secure 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccines by January 2021.

READ: Locsin confirms Duque ‘dropped the ball’ in Pfizer vaccine deal, but urges end to blame game

The health chief has denied that he “dropped the ball,” saying he thoroughly reviewed the confidentiality disclosure agreement which is necessary to start procurement discussions with the US biopharmaceutical company. He added that the claim 10 million doses will land in Pampanga by January was “preposterous,” adding no documents have been sent to DOH nor the COVID-19 task force IATF on the Philippines’ victory in securing the much-awaited vaccines.