Poor, vulnerable sectors priority for Covid vaccine: Go

Poor, vulnerable sectors priority for Covid vaccine: Go

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go

MANILA – Senator Christopher “Bong” Go sought updates from Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III on the clinical trials for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines in the country during the Senate Committee on Health hearing he chaired on Monday.

Go also reminded the Department of Health (DOH) that once the vaccine becomes available, the poor and the vulnerable must be prioritized.

“At paalala ko lang po, gaya ng sinabi ng ating Pangulo, unahin natin ‘yung mahihirap, ‘yung mga nasa vulnerable sectors dahil sila po ang kailangan lumabas at mag trabaho para mabuhay. Kailangan nila maghanapbuhay kaya kailangan unahin natin itong mga poor at vulnerable sectors sa vaccine once safe na po itong vaccine na ito,” Go said.
(Just a reminder, just like what the President said, we prioritize the poor, those in the vulnerable sectors because they are the ones who are outside their homes to work to survive. They need to work so they need to be the first to be inoculated once there is already a vaccine.)

Duque positively responded highlighting that the healthcare workers, the front-liners, the poor, and other priority groups, such as the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or Philippine National Police, consisting of about 20 million in population will be given priority.

Duque said they are coordinating with the World Health Organization on vaccine development and have identified places and hospitals that will be used for the clinical trial phase three.

The Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials are separated into phases.

Phase I includes initial testing of a new vaccine done in normal or healthy volunteers and would only involve a few participants.

Phase II will study the use of the vaccine in patients at risk of the target disease.

Phase III will include a study to be conducted in populations for which the new vaccine will be used to confirm findings from earlier phases, and will determine safety and efficacy.

Duque said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is signing confidentiality disclosure agreements that will allow the DOH to use the information and current data regarding the clinical trial phases being conducted by the DOST.

“Hindi po kasi lahat sabay-sabay ang vaccine development. May iba po na nauna at batay po ito roon sa nilagdaan ng DOST at ng mga vaccine manufacturing companies,” Duque said during the Senate hearing.
(Not all the vaccine development is simultaneous. There are others that have gone first based on the documents signed by DOST and other vaccine manufacturing companies.)

The DOH Secretary also mentioned that six companies are working on the vaccine—Sinovac, Sinopharm, Pfizer, Biotech, Oxford, and Sputnik V.

Duque reiterated that they have been coordinating with DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña regarding the latest developments in the vaccine trials.

Go, then, asked for a timeline on the release and availability of the vaccine.

“About the vaccine, kailan po sa tingin ninyo tayo magkakaroon ng safe na (when do you think there would be available a safe) vaccine?,” Go asked.

Duque said the DOST chief expected the release and availability of the vaccine by April 2021.

“It would take about six months between now and end of March 2021 para po makumpleto ‘yung (to complete the) clinical trial phase three. Ngayon po, pinaghahandaan natin. Tama po kayo, may mga nag-apply for clinical trials dito sa Pilipinas at meron na pong kasunduan ang DOST na sila po ang mangunguna sa vaccine development under the IATF resolution (Now we are preparing. You’re right there who have applied for clinical trials here in the Philippines and there is an agreement with the DOST that they would lead the vaccine development under the IATF resolution),” Duque said, explaining that DOST has been designated as chair of the sub-technical working group on vaccine development. (PR)

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