Mayor orders suspension of WestVac clinical trial

·3 min read

Acting Mayor Michael Rama has ordered the suspension of the clinical trial in the city conducted by WestVac Biopharma Co. Ltd. on a vaccine against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

This, after the proponents of the clinical trial said to be undertaken in a private hospital in the city, allegedly failed to seek the permission of the Cebu City Government on the trial.

“As far as the City Government (is concerned), we don’t recognize it. Being the acting mayor, in charge especially on the matter of health per Local Government Code, that should not be pursued,” Rama said. “I am officially telling whoever they are, they should stop.”

Rama is acting mayor after Mayor Edgardo Labella went on indefinite sick leave starting Oct. 8, 2021 because of “on and off pneumonia.”

The acting mayor explained that even if there is approval from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the conduct of such a study here in the Philippines for its upcoming vaccine, WestVac Biopharma still needed to coordinate with the City Government similar to the way the City Government was informed on the matter of the dengue vaccine.

“If they would wish to be into that, I find it really abominable, highly reprehensible. That is already taking things abrasively. We have the office of the mayor, vice mayor, the Council. These did not disappear,” the acting mayor said.

Rama said there should be a memorandum of agreement approved by the City Council with the proponent of the clinical trial to inform and prepare the people for what they are going to do.

The Cebu City Police Office was also tasked by Rama to conduct an investigation into the alleged payment of money by the clinical trial proponent to the people who will participate in their study.

Dr. Jeffrey Ibones, head of the City Health Department, said he and Rama were not against the holding of a clinical trial in the city. All they were asking for was coordination.

During a press conference Monday, October 18, 2021, Rama said he learned about the clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine being conducted in the city only from the newspapers and radio.

Councilor Dave Tumulak raised the alarm on the clinical trial being held in the city when he divulged in a privilege speech at the council’s session last Wednesday, October 13, that he had been approached by a man who had been vaccinated on October 9 believing it was a final vaccine when in fact, it was still under clinical trial.

As of this writing, no communication has yet reached the Office of the Mayor announcing that a clinical trial is being conducted.

The website of the DOST-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 among the eight project locations in the country for the trial was the Perpetual Succour Hospital in Cebu City.

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

The hospital has not issued a statement on the trial.

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