PH eyes COVID-19 vaccine trials

March 18, 2020

CNN Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology is eyeing to launch clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said Tuesday that they are contacting four foreign partners for possible clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine or drug.

From March 17 to May 17, the Food and Drug Administration will suspend initial applications for certificates of product registration, which would allow a product to be sold in the market. However, applications for this certificate for antivirals, antibiotics, vaccines and drugs used for emergency management of patients with COVID-19 will continue.

The World Health Organization expects that a vaccine for COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus, may be available in 18 months. Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines executive director Teodoro Padilla expects it to come even earlier, with a vaccine likely to be developed by year-end.

By comparison, researchers took about 20 months to start human tests for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome vaccine, CNN reported.

Several companies around the world have begun development on a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

US biotech firm Moderna expects the first phase of clinical trials to begin in April, while US biotech firm Novavax hopes to start the first phase of testing in May or June.

US biotech firm Inovio, the US National Institute of Health, Chinese biotech firm Clover together with British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, Israel’s Institute for Biological Research, US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, and Japan;’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases are all working on a COVID-19 vaccine.

Without a vaccine available, people cannot protect themselves against infection except through proper handwashing, cough etiquette and social distancing.

There is also yet to be a cure for COVID-19, with patients only receiving treatment to ease the symptoms they have. Researchers are looking to test antiviral drugs, especially remdesivir, to see if these can work against COVID-19.

COVID-19, a disease spread through droplets when a person who has it coughs or sneezes, has infected 197 in the Philippines. Fourteen of them have died, while seven have recovered.

Globally, 198,155 have been infected and 7,954 have died due to the disease, while 81,960 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Commonly reported COVID-19 symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. Those with severe and critical symptoms should call the Health Department at (02) 8-651-7800 local 1149-1150.