IATF approves Phl participation in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2020   •   578

MANILA, Philippines — Upon the recommendation of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the proposed participation of the Philippines in clinical trials that seek to formulate a potential vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Based on IATF Resolution No.39 dated May 22, 2020, the task force has also ordered the creation of a sub-technical working group which will be led by the DOST.

The group will be coordinating with the four collaborating organizations composed of the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and the World Health Organization (WHO) with regard to the said clinical trials.

The IATF has also issued a directive to the FDA to facilitate the processing of necessary permits for the conduct of the clinical trials in the country.

The collaborating organizations for the clinical trials are the Adimmune Corporation, Academia Sinica, Chinese Academy of Science- Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, the Sinopharm – Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and the Beijing Institute.

Once the clinical trials are undertaken, these will be included in the FDA’s requirements for the registration process for the vaccine and the application for certificate of registration to make the vaccine available in the market.

The Philippines has initially participated in the WHO’s clinical trials, which include the testing of off-label drugs that show potential of being effective against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the IATF has also approved the plans of the DOST to construct research centers for the local vaccine research development.

These include the Virology S&T Institute at the New Clark City in Tarlac and the reactivation of the Pharmaceutical Development Unit of the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute. —(from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

DOH warns public on possible airborne transmission of COVID-19

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 10, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public on the possible airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Despite the lack of further studies, the Health Department said they are not dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 might spread in the air. They reminded the public to always adhere to the health and safety protocols.

Patuloy po tayong natututo tungkol sa SARS-CoV-2 at COVID-19. Kabilang na nga po dito ang mode of transmission o paraan ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 (We are continuously learning about SARS-CoV2 and COVID-19. This includes the mode of transmission of COVID-19). It’s an evolving science and new evidence continues to roll out,” according to DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.

More than 200 scientists urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to acknowledge the possibility of airborne transmission. According to a study, “viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

The WHO previously dismissed the possibility of airborne transmission but said they will release a scientific brief summary regarding the collected data on the modes of transmission of COVID-19

“This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is important that what we know is it fits into the guidance that we have, which is why a comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” according to WHO Technical Lead on COVID-19 Pandemic Maria Van Kerkhove.

Meanwhile, the DOH said they will also review and verify the evidence and studies about COVID-19 in order to provide appropriate information and advisories to the public.AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

WHO sets up panel to review handling of COVID-19 pandemic

UNTV News   •   July 10, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday (July 9) it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.

The announcement follows strong criticism by United States President Donald Trump’s administration, which accused the WHO of being “China-centric,” and the U.S.’s formal notification on Tuesday that it was withdrawing from the U.N. agency in a year’s time.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel and chose its members, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual meeting with representatives of the agency’s 194 member states, which was webcast.

Tedros noted that in May, WHO’s member states adopted unanimously a resolution put forward by the European Union calling for an evaluation of the global response to the pandemic.

More than 12 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 548,429​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. (Reuters)

(Production: Yiming Woo)

DOH sees clustering of COVID-19 cases in over 400 areas nationwide

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday reported it has monitored around 488 clustering of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in different areas in the country.

The DOH said this means that an active transmission of virus is happening in these areas.

As of July 8, the department said that 379 of the clusters were reported in communities, 46 in health facilities, 24 in jails, and 39 in other areas.

The DOH also reported clustering of cases in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT), at a construction site in Metro Manila and several barangays across the country.

It also said that event-based report showed that Metro Manila had six new barangays with clustering, and one each in Cebu City, Mandaue City, Palawan, and Albay.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has recorded a total of 50,359 cases.

The DOH surmised that the continued increase in coronavirus infections in the country is not just attributed to improved testing as it may also be due to the clustering of cases and community transmission.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the spike in cases, especially in Metro Manila, is also probably due to increased physical contact following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

“Maaaring ang pagtaas ng mga cases sa Metro Manila ay dahil sa increased testing capacity at community transmission na ating nararanasan nang simulan ang pag ease ng community restrictions,” she said.

“Lalong napaiigting ang community transmission kung lax o hindi natin sinusunod ang minimum public health standards,” she added.

Vergeire said they are now closely monitoring possible clustering of coronavirus cases in different areas of the country.

The country’s coronavirus cases rose to 50,359 on Wednesday after the DOH reported additional 2,539 cases. The agency said that 1,922 of this figure were fresh or newly-validated while 617 were reported late.

The DOH also reported a total of 12,588 recovered patients and 1,314 fatalities.

Vergeire reiterated the agency’s appeal to the public to be more cautious and strictly observe health protocols such as the wearing of face mask, frequent handwashing and social distancing.

“This is our call to everybody, whether you be in the private or public sector. If you are going out and exposing yourself and your loved ones to an unseen enemy, protect yourself. by doing so, you protect your family, you protect your community, you protect the nation,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

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