An expert panel from the Science and Technology department has approved Chinese drug maker Clover Biopharmaceuticals’ application for clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine, the agency said on Friday.

A separate ethics review committee and the local Food and Drug Administration must also approve the application, Jaime Montoya, executive director of the agency’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, told an online news briefing.

This is the second application approved by the Science and Technology department’s expert panel, aside from Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

Mr. Montoya said the clinical trials for both companies might start by late December at the earliest. Their applications have been forwarded to the local FDA for regulatory review, he added.

Mr. Montoya said three other drug makers have applied for clinical trials — Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

Gamaleya is still completing some documents while the panel is still reviewing responses from Janssen. AstraZeneca was the last to submit an application, he said.

Meanwhile, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette T. Uy said the Phividec Industrial Estate Authority can lead the local production of vaccines under license from original manufacturers.

The country would also need safe places where enough vaccines and supplies can be stored for future needs, he said.
Ms. Uy urged the Department of Trade and Industry to “find ways to manufacture the vaccines and cold containers on a massive scale, along with the production of tens of millions of syringes and other supplies needed.”

“We must anticipate vaccination of migrant workers, returning overseas Filipino workers, foreign tourists, and crews of international airlines, passenger ships, cargo ships, personnel of foreign embassies and international regional headquarters, and visiting foreign troops,” she said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza