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COVID-19 WATCH

Vaccines available in second quarter of 2021

MJ Blancaflor

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Health officials remain hopeful that vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would be available in the Philippines in the second quarter of 2021.

In a media forum Friday, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo said his agency might approve the wide use of anti-COVID vaccines next year if manufacturers would finish the last phase of their clinical trials by the end of 2020.

“The best case scenario is if clinical trials are completed by December or January and a company would file with the FDA an application, then its possible that by April 2021 we will have an approved vaccine,” Domingo told reporters.

“That’s a best case scenario assuming they will complete their analysis and submit it immediately to the FDA,” he added.

Potential vaccines should be approved by the FDA before they can be sold. The registration process might last from 45 to 60 days.

In the same forum, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña also expressed optimism that COVID-19 vaccines might be available next year since the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Solidarity Trial in the Philippines would likely start in December.

He noted that vaccine trials might range from three to six months.

De la Peña also said the country would likely identify the individuals who would take part in the trials by October, after the WHO distributes the vaccines and outlines its protocols for participating countries.

The Philippines is in talks with various foreign pharmaceutical companies for potential anti-COVID vaccines.

So far, the government has signed six confidentiality agreements with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute; China’s Sinovac, Sinopharm, and ZFSW; Australia’s University of Queensland; and Taiwan’s Addimune.

The agreements would allow local experts to look at the results of their Phase I and II trials to determine if it is safe to test on Filipinos.

These manufacturers — except China’s Sinopharm — are interested to conduct the final phase of their trials in the Philippines.

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