Official seeks probe on clinical trial of WestVac Covid vaccine in Cebu City

·3 min read

A CEBU City official has called for an investigation on the alleged conduct by a private hospital of a clinical trial on Cebu City residents of a Covid-19 vaccine without the knowledge of the City Government.

In a privilege speech Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, Councilor Dave Tumulak said a clinical trial was being conducted by WestVac Biopharma Co. Ltd. headquartered in China, at a private hospital in Cebu City.

Tumulak told the City Council that residents who passed a screening were offered P2,500 to P5,000 for the vaccination.

The south district councilor said he got wind of the clinical trial of the vaccine developed in China after residents inquired with him on the efficacy of the WestVac vaccine.

He said some residents were vaccinated on Oct. 9, and then were given not a vaccination card authorized by the City Government, but a card showing that they were participants in a study or trial for the “recombinant Covid-19 vaccine.”

Among those convinced to participate in the clinical trial were residents living in coastal barangays and including Cogon Pardo and Labangon.

Tumulak, along with the City Council, urged the Department of Health (DOH) as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to verify this information, saying Cebu City Government officials were unaware of what the manufacturer of the vaccine had done.

The council also asked the City Health Department to conduct an investigation especially in the city’s coastal barangays.

The City Council through Tumulak also asked Cebu City residents to wait for the DOH and FDA to explain the vaccination allegedly administered by a Chinese Medical Group so the public could be apprised of the safety and risks of the vaccine.

Tumulak said he did not mean to deprive the people of money but that he just wanted to ensure that the vaccines were safe.

The council also urged the management of the private hospital to present its written permit from the City Government in relation to the clinical trial held in the city.

WestVac Biopharma began its Phase 1 clinical trial in China and in June 2021 conducted its Phase 3 trials in Indonesia, Kenya and the Philippines involving 40,000 individuals, Tumulak said.

Asked to comment, Rica Aumentado, FDA 7 supervisor, advised SunStar Cebu to first write a letter to both the FDA and the DOH regarding the matter.

Tumulak did not name the hospital, but the website of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development lists an approved Phase 3 clinical trial to be conducted by WestVac Biopharma Co. Ltd. for 14 months from July 30, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022.

The trial to evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of recombinant Covid-19 vaccine (Sf9 cells) in adults aged 18 years and older, had an FDA approval date of June 28, 2021.

Named as project locations were Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Iloilo, Perpetual Succour Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute, Tropical Disease Foundation Inc., West Visasyas State University Medical Center and St. Luke Medical Center-Global City.

Contacted by SunStar, Perpetual Succour Hospital in Cebu City had yet to issue a comment as of press time. (PAC, JOB, CTL)

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