Duterte errs in claiming COVID-19 vaccines ‘perfected’


Screengrab from pcco.gov.ph

President Rodrigo Duterte wrongly claimed Monday that many countries have “perfected” vaccines for COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus.


In his televised public address, Duterte shared the “good news” in the fight against SARS-COV-2:

But ang masabi ko sa inyo na good news (the good news I can tell you) is that we believe and I believe too that many countries has (sic) now perfected some vaccine. Maybe some are haphazard kasi madalian eh (Some may be haphazard because the development is rushed).

No vaccine has been perfected, as Duterte erroneously said.


The World Health Organization said June 18 researchers were still working on more than 200 vaccine candidates around the world, including around 10 that are in human testing, some of them in Phase 3.


Saying vaccine development is “complex undertaking” and beset with “a lot of uncertainty,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said Phase 3 is the phase which will “definitively prove whether a vaccine is efficacious and safe.”


She also said WHO hopes hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine can be produced this year and two billion doses by the end of 2021.


But she said:

(T)here's a big 'if' there, because we don't yet have any vaccine that's proven.

Vaccine development goes through several stages, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. These are the exploratory stage, pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control.


Clinical development, in turn, involves three phases.


Small groups of people receive the trial vaccine in Phase 1. The vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended in the second phase. During Phase III, where the COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently in, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.


The CDC said many vaccines undergo Phase 4, or formal ongoing studies, after they are approved and licensed.


Should some of the vaccines being developed fail, Swaminathan said, “The good thing is, we have many vaccines and platforms so even if the first one fails, or the second ones fails, we shouldn't lose hope, we shouldn't give up.”


References


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Vaccine testing and the approval process. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/basics/test-approve.html


Presidential Communications Operations Office. (2020, June 22). Talk to the people of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Retrieved from https://pcoo.gov.ph/presidential-speech/talk-to-the-people-of-president-rodrigo-roa-duterte-on-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-11/


UNifeed. (2020, June 18). WHO / COVID-19 vaccine and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/unifeed/asset/2548/2548675/

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