DOH: PH in TALKS with CHINA, TAIWAN COVID VACCINE Manufacturers, But NO Prospects Until 2021

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It has been said that about the only time the “new normal” global socio-economic situation that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic would only return to a “normal” normal at the time that a vaccine for the China-originating novel coronavirus can be developed and distributed worldwide. Until then, the best one can hope for is to keep clean and distant, or if infected but recovered then for his antibody count not to diminish. The Philippine government has talked to other countries undertaking COVID vaccine development, but despite the most optimistic estimates it seems clear that no relief is coming this year.

Inquirer.net reports that while contact has been maintained between the country’s Department of Health (DOH) and four drug manufacturers researching a vaccine for COVID-19, the hard and uncomfortable fact remains that no real results could be achieved until 2021 at the earliest. This was stressed by DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a statement Tuesday, July 28. She explained that the Philippines in undergoing negotiations for possible priority distribution with three drug manufacturers in mainland China and a fourth in Taiwan. The hope is that the country could at best be considered for joining in clinical trials for any vaccines these companies might eventually develop.

Already the Philippines is an official participant in the Solidarity Trials for COVID-19 vaccine candidates to be overseen by the United Nations organ the World Health Organization (WHO). Unfortunately the trials have not yet begun, and as the year 2020 rolls further into its latter half the once-ideal “vaccine by year’s end” threshold has become increasingly unlikely. Under optimal circumstances, adds Vergeire, a clinical trial for a new vaccine or medicine takes months, and even after the procedure the manufacturers must still spend additional time in consolidating the results of the trials to see if the prospective cure is effective.

“It will take one year before we can know whether there is a vaccine we can use or not,” concludes Undersecretary Vergeire. But that is cold comfort to Filipinos, who are still reeling from the explosion of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 this month with consecutive days recording four-digit figures in infection. With 82,040 total COVID cases, the country is coming close to surpassing the current figures from Ground Zero of the pandemic, China itself. Restrictions on travel and business in the interest of arresting the spread are seemingly rendered fruitless, while still crippling the economy to near-disastrous levels. The vaccine cannot come soon enough.

Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin

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