SPMC tapped to join clinical trials for potential COVID vaccines

A tarpaulin bearing safety reminders on COVID-19 is posted outside the SPMC in Davao City. MindaNews file photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 October) – The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) has been tapped to participate in Phase 3 of the clinical trials for the potential coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in the Philippines.

In a phone interview on Friday, Dr. Ricardo Audan, SPMC officer-in-charge revealed that the government-run hospital was identified as one of the trial sites for the large-scale clinical trials of the potential vaccines.

Audan said he received last week a letter from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), informing him that SPMC has been selected as a trial site.

The Department of Health earlier confirmed that the Philippines is one of the countries “that will participate in the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for Vaccines, a global effort to rapidly develop and evaluate possible candidate vaccines against the COVID-19.”

Audan said the DOST-PCHRD has been tasked to conduct the clinical trials.

“The SPMC will be part of the vaccine trial, although it has yet to start,” he said.

He added the hospital would comply with the requirements of the DOST-PCHRD in time for the start of the trials.

“I presented it during our task force regular meeting at the SPMC. There are several requirements before a hospital could participate but, by principle, we will accept it,” he said.

He said the DOST-PCHRD has not identified which potential vaccine would be tested at SPMC.

The Gamaleya Research Institute from Russia, Jannsen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson from the United States, and Sinovac from China have applied to do clinical trials in the Philippines.

The 1,500-bed SPMC is the country’s largest government hospital catering to patient-referrals from other regions outside Davao, and is the biggest COVID-19 referral hospital in Mindanao.

The region’s three COVID-19 referral hospitals are SPMC, Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, and Davao Doctors Hospital’s Dumoy facility in Davao City.

As of October 8, Department of Health-Davao reported a total of 3,435 COVID cases with 2,719 recoveries and 112 deaths.

Of this total, 2,220 were reported in Davao City, 241 in Davao de Oro, 387 in Davao del Norte, 222 in Davao del Sur, 84 in Davao Occidental, and 281 in Davao Oriental. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)