Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, on Saturday emphasized the need to ensure that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to be used in the country is safe and effective.
“It is important that this COVID-19 vaccine is safe for our countrymen,” Go said during a radio interview Saturday, adding that the proper development process must be followed before using a vaccine.
According to Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, the timeline of vaccine development and trial in the country is until March, 2021 – the time phase 3 trial is expected to be completed,” he said.
“It means this will undergo clinical trials. It is important that this is safe for Filipinos,” he added.
Once a vaccine is certified safe and effective for use, the senator from Davao said that the poor and vulnerable sectors must be prioritized so they could immediately resume their lives normally.
“Once the vaccine is available and declared safe, President Duterte and I will prioritize the poor and the vulnerable sectors,” said Go, former Special Assistant to President Duterte.
He warned against rushing the production and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying “let us not rush it because it is important that this has to be tested and declared safe.”
“We do not want another controversy to happen in this vaccine. The life of every Filipino is paramount,” he said.
Meanwhile, Go said that there is an ongoing collaboration between multinational drug companies and Philippine authorities regarding the conduct of clinical trials and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have also talked to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Administrator Director General Eric Domingo last night and there are various companies, like Sinovac, applying for trial in the Philippines. Now, the next move is to have a clinical trial here in our country and I’m sure that there are more offers coming,” Go said.
The senator also urged the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the lead agency in charge of the COVID-19 clinical trials, to ensure that the processes are expedited but still in accordance with the applicable scientific standards.
“We have to wait and be patient. It is important to ensure that this is safe. There is already an ongoing coordination with the World Health Organization on vaccine development and they have identified places and hospitals that will be used for the clinical trial phase 3,” he said.
“It is important that this has to pass the clinical trials,” he pointed out.
Earlier, Go said that the government had already set aside funds for the purchase and development of the COVID-19 vaccine and is looking to secure additional funding to expand the immunization program.
Until then, Go encouraged the public to continue adhering to the health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks and face shields, observing social distancing and frequent hand washing, among others, to prevent the further spread of the virus.
“I’m glad Filipinos are disciplined and are following government protocols. Just cooperate with the government. This is for your own safety. We are doing everything for you,” he said.