MANILA – Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has confirmed that US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has presented its Covid-19 vaccine proposal to the Philippine government.
Vergeire said top Pfizer officials gave their proposal in a recent meeting with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña.
She noted that both parties are working silently on the matter for now and there is no final agreement yet.
DOH representatives also had a virtual meeting recently with Russian embassy officials to discuss an upcoming meeting between Philippine authorities and the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the developer of the Sputnik V, Moscow’s candidate vaccine.
Russia is the first country to approve a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, which with initial skepticism from the international community, since the vaccine had not started the crucial phase 3 clinical trial when it was approved on August 11.
Sputnik V’s “post-registration clinical trials” reportedly began only on August 24 involving more than 40,000 people in Russia.
A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, and possibly two others have signified their intentions to participate in Sputnik V’s clinical trials.
DOH also hopes to start soon the clinical trial for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan. Vergeire said they are now “expediting the processing of documents and agreements with the participating hospitals which have yet to conclude their ethics review. Hopefully in the coming weeks we can already start with the clinical trial,” she added.
Last August 6, the Philippine government received the antiviral medicine, allotted for some 100 patients as part of Tokyo’s emergency grant aid to countries severely affected by the pandemic.
Some researches revealed that Avigan, developed by a subsidiary of Japan-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp., is seen as an effective drug in treating Covid-19. Health experts, however, have cautioned against its use because of its one dangerous potential side effect — birth defects.