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COVID-19 vaccine likely available to public by 2nd quarter of 2021 —DOST

The vaccine against COVID-19 will be available to the public in the country by the second quarter of 2021, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said Wednesday.

In a press conference, Guevara said the country will have access to the vaccine by the fourth quarter of this year but only for clinical trials.

“If we’re talking about the availability en masse, we believe this is going to happen in the second quarter of next year,” Guevara said.

“But if we're talking about the clinical trials, it will start in the fourth quarter of this year.”

Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of DOST Philippine Council for Health Research Development, said the timeline heading to the availability of the vaccine will depend on the country of the vaccine's developer.

According to him, the timeline will start when the vaccine is already approved by its country of origin. For instance, Montoya said Russia, which claimed to be the first country to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, is planning to start the clinical trial involving other countries in September.

He said the process will take six months to finish, after which the results will be gathered, and then the Food and Drugs Administration in Russia will review them for a month.

When the FDA in Russia approved the vaccine, approval from the FDA in other countries will then be sought.

At the start of the second quarter of 2021, the FDA Philippines will review the vaccine for a month. If the results are good, the FDA will approve the vaccine.

By the end of the second quarter of 2021, the vaccine will be available  for market and use, Montoya said.

Philippines’ representative to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trials for COVID-19, Dr. Lina Gloriani, said the Russia-developed vaccine Sputnik V released only limited information.

According to her, the following developers are on the top of the list being considered to be part of the solidarity trial, which are  all currently under Phase 3:

  • Oxford-AstraZeneca
  • Sinovac
  • Sinopharm (two vaccines under development)
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer

“Meron pang iba pero nasa Phase 2 pa lang sila. But I think eventually, they will move to Phase 3. So, hindi natin alam sino doon yung isasali sa WHO Solidarity Trial,” Gloriani said.

“Right now, ‘yun po ang nakakausap natin,” she added.

FDA general director Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo explained that the Phase 1, 2, and Phase 3 of vaccine trials test the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

After the Phase 3 trial, Domingo said vaccines can be distributed to market.

Citing information from a meeting with WHO, Domingo earlier said that there were doubts on how Russia jumped to the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Ang huling update natin ay sa Russia mukhang nasa Phase 2 clinical trial pa lamang at patapos pa lamang. Kaya siguro nagulat din ang buong mundo na biglang kine-claim nila na approved na,” he said.

"Hindi natin alam kung ano 'yung approval process na nangyari sa Russia or baka talagang nag-approve na sila after Phase 2 o kung talagang na-complete nila 'yung Phase 3,’ he added.

Domingo said the FDA will get more information about the approval of the Sputnik V vaccine. KBK, GMA News