The Philippines will start testing in January COVID-19 vaccines under the World Health Organization's Solidarity Trials, which is expected to be a much faster process, a scientist leading the country's search for a vaccine said Monday.
At least 4,000 Filipinos are expected to participate in the WHO trials, said microbiologist and immunologist Nina Gloriani who leads DOST's vaccine expert panel.
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President Rodrigo Duterte issued last week an Executive Order authorizing the Food and Drug Adminsitration to grant "emergency use" of COVID-19 vaccines and drug candidates approved by their origin country's regulatory boards.
Gloriano told TeleRadyo that the vaccines under the WHO trials are "our safest bet".
"Mas mabuti na may clinical trial kasi iba-iba responses ng mga tao sa vaccine depende sa ethnicity," she said. The WHO is eyeing five candidate vaccines but only two of which will be named this week.
Initial observations of the trial participants could last three to six months, after which they could apply for emergency use if deemed effective. The observation period could last up to two years to note all possible side effects.
Initial participants for the trials have been identified already and will come from communities in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, which are locations with high incidence of COVID-19.