As part of the ongoing efforts to defeat COVID-19, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged the identified local government units (LGUs) to support the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 vaccine and other independent COVID-19 vaccine trials.
In line with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and DILG on the zoning and implementation of COVID-19 vaccine trials, all Metro Manila cities, the Municipality of Pateros, Davao City, Cebu Province, and Cavite Province have been identified as areas of implementation for the vaccine trials.
According to DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya, vaccine recipients under the WHO Solidarity Trial will be recruited from the top five to 10 barangays reporting high COVID-19 cases identified by the Department of Health - Bureau of Epidemiology (DOH-EB).
Malaya stressed that coordination with LGUs especially at the barangay level is vital in the success of the vaccine clinical trials.
“We need the full support of our LGUs since trial sites will be at the barangay level and randomization will be by households. The household census will also be obtained from the barangays to ensure follow up,” he said.
Independent clinical trials by private vaccine companies may also be assigned trial zones such that they are equally and rationally distributed to avoid competition in subject recruitment.
Malaya clarified that the vaccine solidarity trials are different from the national vaccination program. The trials are for candidate vaccines to test their efficacy and safety while the national vaccination program are for FDA-approved vaccines already.
Some 15,000 volunteers aged 18-59 years will be involved the country’s WHO solidarity trials. It is a global effort to evaluate the safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines which are not yet approved by the FDA.
In DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2021-011, DILG Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Undersecretary Bernardo C. Florece Jr. enjoined the identified LGUs to provide logistic support or other non-monetary assistance needed by the Project Teams through transportation of potential participants to the trial sites for screening, vaccination, and scheduled follow-up visit.
In the same directive, LGUs are also enjoined to assist in locating participants who do not come to the trial site for the scheduled visit and bringing participants to the hospital site in the event of an exposure to or presentation of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or the development of adverse reactions.
Moreover, LGUs are encouraged to assist in coordination with the Project Team in organizing meetings related to the clinical trials such as the orientation of potential participants.
“Inaasahan po namin ang inyong buong suporta at pakikiisa upang maging matagumpay ang mga vaccine trials sa ating bansa. Ipakita po natin ang tunay na diwa ng bayanihan sa ating patuloy na pagtugon sa pandemiyang ito,” Malaya said.
For monitoring purposes, all concerned DILG Regional Offices are directed to submit monthly situation reports regarding the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine trials in their respective areas of jurisdiction to the DILG Central Office through the Bureau of Local Government Development.