Philippines eyes Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine trial as early as November

MANILA: Sinovac Biotech may start late-stage trials of its coronavirus vaccine in the Philippines as early as next month, its food and drugs agency chief said on Thursday (Oct 15), after it hurdled the initial stage of the country’s screening process.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) expects to receive the Chinese drug maker’s formal application for phase three clinical trials within two weeks and regulators will make a decision after their evaluation, FDA head Rolando Enrique Domingo said.

Domingo told reporters a November trial start was “possible”.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte repeated on Wednesday that he preferred that his country source its COVID-19 vaccines from either China or Russia.

He also said he wanted the entire population vaccinated and has previously said he would not reopen schools until a vaccine was available.

READ: Duterte wants entire Philippine population vaccinated for COVID-19

A Sinovac spokesman confirmed that materials had been provided to the Philippines in the hope of starting Phase 3 trials, but gave no timeframe.

Jaime Montoya, a member of an expert panel screening applications for clinical trials and medications, told Reuters a technical evaluation of Sinovac had been completed and results already submitted to an ethics board for review.

READ: Indonesia passes Philippines with most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is also evaluating COVID-19 vaccines of Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen for late-stage trials. It is also talking to US drugmaker Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc as potential suppliers.

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