“As we gear for the conduct of clinical trials in the country, we recognize the pressing need to harmonize and strengthen our efforts to ensure their smooth implementation,” Chair of the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara says during the town hall sessions conducted for clinical trials on January 29, February 1 and 2, 2021.
Focusing on COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, the sessions were held to generate support from key stakeholders, to inform the audience, and to prevent any kind of misinformation to spread.
DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya provided an overview on the benefits, risks and importance of conducting clinical trials in the country. “Clinical trials are ongoing research, which means that we are not sure of the outcomes and that they may come with risks. [But] to minimize these risks and ensure the safety of participants, a rigorous review process is conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its partner evaluators,” he says.
To highlight the critical importance of adhering to ethical guidelines, Forum for Ethical Research Committee in Asia and Western Pacific Region (FERCAP) Coordinator Dr. Cristina Torres discussed the protocols and practices to uphold the rights of every participant.
Common queries discussed during the sessions revolved around the following topics: the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the risks and benefits of participating in clinical trials, ethical guidelines and considerations, the protocols, timelines and logistics of the clinical trials, among others.
Attended by local government officials and hospital workers in trial sites and hospitals, the series gathered a total of 603 participants via Zoom and 1,500 viewers through the DOST-PCHRD and the DOH Facebook pages.
Replays of these sessions are available in the DOST-PCHRD and DOH Facebook pages. The transcription of the Q and A can be downloaded here.