CNN Philippines — The policy-making body in the government's coronavirus response has approved the country's participation in clinical trials aimed at developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
"The recommendations of the Department of Science and Technology on the participation of the Philippines in the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines are hereby approved," the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said in Resolution No. 39.
The task force reached this agreement in a meeting on Friday, according to the document signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. Malacañang released a copy of the resolution on Saturday.
The task force also directed the Food and Drug Administration to help with the issuance of a permit for the conduct of clinical trials in the country, subject to requirements set by the World Health Organization.
The Philippines will be collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China National Pharmaceutical Group or Sinopharm, as well as Taiwan's Adimmune Corporation and Academia Sinica, the task force said.
The vaccine being developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Sinopharm and the Wuhan Institute of Virology has entered the second phase of clinical trials, with 96 people being given the experimental vaccine, according to Chinese state broadcaster CGTN.
For the Philippines, a sub-technical working group headed by the DOST will be formed to coordinate with the Department of Health, FDA, and WHO regarding the trials. Researchers as well as sites that will be involved in the study will be identified.
The task force also supported DOST's plan to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute in New Clark City, and reactivate the Pharmaceutical Development Unit at DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute as a Tuklas Center for Pharmaceuticals Development.
These research centers "can initiate and strengthen local vaccine development," the task force said.
The Muntinlupa City-based Research Institute for Tropical Medicine currently specializes on planning and implementing research programs for infectious and tropical diseases. It is also the country's primary COVID-19 testing facility.
President Rodrigo Duterte in his report to Congress this week already mentioned that the DOST has been in talks with Chinese and Taiwanese organizations for possible clinical trials, as the world searchers for a cure or vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic.
The Philippines is also part of the WHO's solidarity trial, a global effort to find a cure for the viral illness.
COVID-19, a disease spread through droplets when a person who has it coughs or sneezes, has infected more than five million people worldwide and killed 338,000.
The Philippines has 13,777 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with thousands of suspected cases awaiting testing and validation. More than 3,000 have survived the disease in the country, while 863 died. Quarantine measures are in place throughout the country to prevent further spread of the virus.