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COVID-19 WATCH

WHO clinical trial for vaccines to start in Phl by December

Gabbie Parlade

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The World Health Organization clinical trials for vaccines will start in the Philippines by December of this year, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this was disclosed by the WHO in a meeting last Friday.

She said that initially the trial will start in one of its pilot sites before being conducted in some of the countries included in the trial.

“Sa November kasi parang mag-uumpisa sila sa isang site and then magfo-follow na ‘yung iba’t ibang clinical trials in other countries including the Philippines by December 2020,” she told reporters.

By this week, the WHO has committed to announcing more of the details including the finalized sites which will by joining.

Earlier the organization said that they are eyeing to release results of the trial by January of next year with around 17 potential candidates coming from different manufacturers yet to be finalized.

In other developments, DOH said that the WHO has also halted the inclusion of Interferon Beta 1-a in the roster of treatment part of the ongoing solidarity trial for medication against COVID-19.

This came after it found no evidence to reduce mortality among infected patients, part of the study.

“Ang pangatlong treatment na tinanggal ay ang Interferon. So ‘yung gamot hindi n’ya na-reach o na-achieve ‘yung objective kung bakit sya sinusubukan para dun sa purpose na ‘yun,” she said.

But as an alternative, she said that the WHO is instead eyeing to include the monoclonal antibodies following the removal of several treatment arms.

Based on reports, the monoclonal antibodies are defined as laboratory-made proteins that are formulated to act as antibodies in a person’s immune system. It has been developed to treat many diseases such as various types of cancer.

For now, trials in other countries regarding its possible effects on COVID-19 are still ongoing with no specific evidence yet on its effectiveness.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the WHO is set to continue its trial on the use of Remdesivir to gather more results despite doubts already expressed by some experts.

The chemotherapeutic treatment Acalabrutinib, meanwhile, which has recently been added to the list of examined medications will push through.

She announced that its first batch of doses have already arrived in the country and will soon be administered among the existing participants.

As of Sunday afternoon, the Philippines has breached the 370,000 mark of COVID-19 cases ranking at 20th spot with the most number of infections reported worldwide.

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