Duterte offers P10-M to any Filipino who develops COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   April 21, 2020   •   658

MANILA, Philippine – President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is offering P10 million to any Filipino who can develop a cure or vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Inanunsyo po ng Pangulo na siya po ay magbibigay ng pabuya ng hanggang P10 milyong piso sa kahit sinong Pilipino na makakadiskubre ng vaccine laban sa COVID-19,” confirmed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

[The President has announced that he is giving a reward of P10 million to any Filipino who could discover a vaccine for COVID-19.]

Likewise, the President is giving a substantial grant to the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in order to come up with a vaccine.

READ: UP-PGH calls on COVID-19 survivors to donate blood

At present, the Philippines has allowed clinical trials of a possible treatment for COVID-19 patients, one of which is the convalescent plasma therapy which uses blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors.

The Health Department is also looking into the use of Chinese traditional medicine to help treat COVID-19 patients. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DOF assures enough funds for free COVID-19 vaccine for 20M Filipinos

Robie de Guzman   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) assured that the Philippine government has enough funds to purchase millions of doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine once it becomes available.

In a briefing in Malacañang aired on Friday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said they have prepared a financing plan to procure COVID-19 vaccines with the help of the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC).

The PITC, an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) engaged in trading and bulk importation of essential goods for the government, has been tasked to manage the financing efforts for the vaccines.

Researchers and scientists across the world are racing to develop vaccines against the viral respiratory disease as cases continue to spike.

Dominguez said a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by December this year.

He said the vaccines will be purchased through the PITC and turned over to the DOH.

“Once that happens, the Department of Health now will put in their budget to pay these 400 million dollars or roughly P20 billion,” the finance chief said.

“We can pay them over 2 or 3 years, so babayaran lang nila with the financing companies which is LandBank and DPB, so kayang-kaya ng DPB at ng LandBank na i-finance itong purchase ng COVID vaccine,” he added.

This way, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, the government won’t have to sell properties to finance the purchase of vaccines.

“Kaya po ipinapadaan sa PITC, Philippine International Trade Corporation, dahil para po sila po ang in effect directly na manghihiram mula sa DPB and LandBank,” he said.

“’Yung sinasabi ni Sec. Domiguez, ang may pondo na magpapahiram dito po sa isang government corporation who will execute the importation or the buying ng mga vaccines na ito, para po ang PITC ang magsu-supply sa DOH,” he added.

The vaccines will be administered to the poorest 20 million Filipinos for free.

If each of the 20 million poor Filipinos will need two shots, Dominguez said an estimated P20 billion fund would be needed.

The DTI, however, clarified that this figure is only initial and will be increased based on DOH’s recommendation.

Private companies wanting to secure financing to procure COVID-19 vaccines may do so through the PITC, Secretary Lopez said.

“Maaaring intial po yun dun sa poorest of the poor na communities. Of course, beyond that ang private sector naman po pwede ring makabili padaanin din dito sa PITC para makakuha ng tayo ng volume purchasing o volume discount,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

FDA prepares for clinical trials on six COVID-19 vaccine candidates

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to launch the clinical trials on six drugs that are candidates for the treatment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to FDA Director General Eric Domingo, the selected drugs are based on the updates from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the agency that has been helping the FDA in searching for a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

The FDA, however, has not disclosed the details on the six candidate vaccines.

In addition to these, Domingo said the Philippines is now preparing to join the Phase 3 Clinical Trials together with other participating countries.

“Posibleng mag-apply at magsasagawa ng Phase 3 Clinical Trials on candidate COVID-19 vaccines sa bansa [We may apply and conduct a Phase 3 Clinical trials on candidate COVID-19 vaccines here in the country],” Domingo said. 

“Pinag-uusapan na rin ang pakikilahok ng Pilipinas sa gagawing Solidarity Vaccine Trials ng World Health Organization [There are also discussions on the participation of the Philippines in the upcoming Solidarity Vaccine Trials by the World Health Organization],” he added. 

Five of the 166 COVID-19 candidate vaccines that are already in the Phase 3 Clinical Trials include:

  • Sinovac
  • Sinopharm- Wuhan Institute of Biological Products
  • Sinopharm- Beijing Institute of Biological Products 
  • Astrazeneca- University of Oxford 
  • Moderna/ NIAD

The FDA clarified that though the agency is not involved in the clinical trials, it is the one that regulates the clinical products such as vaccines for public use.

Kapag napatunayan na ligtas at epektibo ang mga produktong ito, puwede na silang mag-apply for registration sa FDA upang maging available ang mga ito sa merkado,” Domingo explained.

[Once a product is proven safe and effective, the owner may apply for registration to the FDA so it may be available to the market.]

In his state of the nation address, President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned that a vaccine for COVID-19 may soon be out specifically by September this year. 

The FDA clarified, however, that developing a vaccine may take months to years, not to mention the strong scientific evidence from clinical trials and the effectiveness and safety of the product for human consumption. 

Nonetheless, the FDA is prioritizing the review of a number of applicants for potential vaccine and treatment for COVID-19.

The agency stressed, however, that there is no vaccine or drugs that have been approved yet to be taken by COVID-19 patients.

All drugs that have been selected for trial are still on trial stage and undergoing experts’ evaluation.

“Wala pa pong bakuna kontra COVID-19, kahit saang bansa [There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19 anywhere in the world],” he added.

The official advised the public to report to the agency any anti-COVID product that is being sold online through its email covidresponse@fda.gov.ph or at ereport@fda.gov.ph.

“Ipakita ninyo po sa amin. Ipadala ninyo po sa amin ang mga detalye at bahala po ang mga ahente namin na manghuhuli dahil mga manloloko po iyan [Show us the product. Send the details to us and our agents will track them and process their arrest because those are fraudulent],” Domingo stressed. –MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Don’t expect first COVID-19 vaccinations until early 2021 — WHO

UNTV News   •   July 23, 2020

Researchers are making good progress in developing vaccines against COVID-19, with a handful in late-stage trials, but their first use cannot be expected until early 2021, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday (July 22).

WHO is working hard to ensure fair distribution of the vaccines, but in the meantime it is key to suppress the spread of the coronavirus, said Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, as daily new cases around the globe are at near-record levels.

“Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated,” Ryan said, noting that several vaccines were now in phase 3 trials and none had failed, so far, in terms of safety or ability to generate an immune response. (Reuters)

(Production: Cecile Mantovani)

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