The Department of Health said it could still procure doses of Moderna’s candidate COVID-19 vaccine even if the drug was not tested in the Philippines.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in today’s virtual press briefing that Moderna is not keen to hold clinical trials in the country.
“What are the implications of [a drug manufactuer] deciding not to hold clinical trials here? The objective of having clinical trials in the Philippines is so that manufacturers can see the effects of the vaccines among our population. Like what we said, a vaccine affects each race differently. It’s better if we see its [effects],” Vergeire said in English and Filipino.
However, she said that Moderna could still provide doses of its vaccine should the Philippine government decide to purchase them.
“If the manufacturer will not conduct a clinical trial in the country that has no effect [on our decision to purchase them]. Although, of course, that is the ideal. But if they do not intend, that will not stop the government from procuring as long as they [follow] the regulatory process and we can see its effects during phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 and our experts can evaluate them,” she said.
Vergire added that the government will purchase the drugs once they are approved by the local Food and Drug Administration.
The Department of Health has said that it is seeking approval from President Rodrigo Duterte to exempt them from the country’s procurement laws, which prohibits paying for any goods and services in advance, to buy COVID-19 vaccines for indigent Filipinos. The agency said this after Pfizer revealed that its candidate vaccine was 90% effective during clinical trials. A few days after that, American pharmaceutical company Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19, raising hopes that the pandemic’s end is in sight.
Duterte has said that his government intends to secure a US$300 million loan to purchase the vaccine for indigent Filipinos.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the country’s “vaccine czar,” said that the drug could become available in the Philippines by May 2021.
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