‘Vaccine approval to be based on scientific data’

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    MALACAÑANG yesterday assured the public that only vaccines that are safe and effective will be approved for use in the country, amid reports linking to corruption a Chinese company from which the Philippines is sourcing vaccines COVID-19.

    Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña yesterday said the Food and Drug Administration and the Single Joint Research Ethics Board of the Department of Health rely on actual scientific data about a product, clinical trials, and findings submitted to these bodies in deciding on whether to approve a product for clinical trial and its eventual use.

    For a vaccine manufacturer to be allowed to conduct clinical trials in the country, it should get approval from the FDA, the ethics board and the Vaccine Experts Panel of the Department of Science and Technology.

    Approved by both the board and the experts panel was the bid of Clover Biopharmaceuticals of China for clinical trial. Clover is awaiting FDA approval.

    The ethics board has also given its approval to AstraZeneca of United Kingdom and Janssen Pharmaceutica of Belgium.

    Sinovac Biotech Ltd. of China was approved by the experts panel ahead of Clover. It was Sinovac that was linked to bribery in a report earlier this month published by the Washington Post which said the firm had been found to have a record of bribing Chinese drug regulators to secure vaccine approvals,

    Another company eyeing clinical trials in the Philippines is the Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia.

    Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said government is looking into the report linking Sinovac to bribery.

    Sinovac Biotech is expected to roll out its vaccine in the country in the latter part of the first quarter of 2021 if agreements are signed between the Philippine government and the Chinese firm.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the alleged bribing of regulators, if true, will not happen in the Philippines.

    He also said the FDA will approve only safe and effective vaccines.

    Meanwhile, Dela Peña advised the public to buy only FDA-approved virgin coconut oil (VCO) amid an expected demand for the product following “promising results” of tests conducted by the DOST in Laguna in the past months.

    He said based on findings, VCO could be used as a food supplement for probable and suspect COVID-19 cases. He said none of the patients with mild cases of COVID-19 and given VCO developed into moderate or severe cases.

    He said despite the promising results, further studies are needed.