PCHRD approves projects for COVID-19 vaccine research

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced to the public last 23 May 2021 that the R&D projects which aimed to evaluate the potential benefits of combining different COVID-19 vaccine products was recently approved through the DOST – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. The two research projects will be done separately by the Philippine Society for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (PSAAI), and the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila).

The PSAAI was granted a fund amounting to P 133 million to study the effectiveness and benefits of combining different types of COVID-19 vaccines. UP Manila on the other hand was granted P144.9 million for the immunology surveillance study.

Secretary Dela Peña reiterated that the research which will be done by PSAAI, through the leadership of Dr. Michelle de Vera, was approved to solve the issues and concerns relating to the COVID-19 vaccination in the Philippine setting, which includes the concern of fluctuating COVID-19 vaccine supply. The research will also look into the high-risk population who had completed their doses of vaccine shots, if they would develop a greater immune response after receiving a booster dose.

A year-long study will be conducted by UP Manila, with the collaboration of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in coordination with LGUs and the Department of Health for the Post-Implementation Vaccine Surveillance Program. The study, through the leadership of Dr. Regina Berba, will aim to estimate vaccine effectiveness of emergency use authorization (EUA) approved vaccines and the potential factors affecting their effectivity.

With the operation of the projects well on their way, DOST Undersecretary for R&D and Chairperson of the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection, said that the two leading institutions will still have to provide technical and ethical clearance. “They still have to pass (approval of) the Food and Drug Administration and the ethics board” according to Undersecretary Guevarra.