PH gov’t to meet AstraZeneca for possible vaccine vs. Covid-19

PH gov’t to meet AstraZeneca for possible vaccine vs. Covid-19

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said officials from the Philippine government are scheduled to meet on Friday with representatives from AstraZeneca, one of the leading developers of a candidate vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“We’re meeting AstraZeneca later with FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Will assure them fairness across the board, no favors, no funny stuff, we need all the vaccines we can get,” he said in a tweet.

Locsin noted that once the supply is available, the European drug maker’s candidate vaccine would be “sold at cost”.

Meanwhile, he clarified that AstraZeneca has no plans to extend its trials to Southeast Asia after FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said the pharmaceutical firm has expressed interest to conduct a clinical study in the Philippines.

“I just talked to AstraZeneca. It is not conducting trials anywhere in Southeast Asia and yet Indonesia has preordered 100 million doses; so since we are all equal members of one human race it doesn’t matter. The primary consideration should be cost per dosage,” he said.

The clinical trials of AstraZeneca and University of Oxford’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine have recently resumed in the US after it was put on hold due to an illness of a volunteer.

Manila is also in talks with Chinese firms currently in the final stages of clinical trials.

Last week, China’s Sinovac Biotech submitted to the FDA Philippines its application to conduct Phase 3 of clinical trials of its vaccine in the country.

The government is also evaluating vaccines of Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute and other pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer.

The Department of Health earlier said the third phase of the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Trial on a possible Covid-19 vaccine is also set to start in the Philippines by end of 2020.

Manila, meanwhile, has secured membership to the Gavi COVAX alliance to ensure access to the global Covid-19 vaccine supply.

The COVAX or Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, co-led by the WHO, represents the largest portfolio of potential Covid-19 vaccines. It is a global initiative among vaccine manufacturers and foreign governments to provide countries an efficient vaccine against coronavirus.

The full list of candidate vaccines under COVAX is as follows:

  • Inovio, United States of America (Phase I/II)
  • Moderna, United States of America (Phase III) 
  • CureVac, Germany (Phase I)
  • Institut Pasteur/Merck/Themis, France/ United States of America /Austria (Preclinical)
  • AstraZeneca/University of Oxford, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Phase III)
  • University of Hong Kong, China (Preclinical)
  • Novavax, United States of America (Phase I/II)
  • Clover Biopharmaceuticals, China (Phase I)
  • University of Queensland/CSL, Australia (Phase I)

As of October 29, there are 376,935 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, including 7,147 deaths and 329,848 recoveries. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora /PNA –