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MANILA, June 12 (Mabuhay) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it was open to the possibility of a clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines on Filipino children.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH met with the Department of Science and Technology and other experts on Thursday night to discuss possible vaccine trials for kids.

“May mga sinasabi (It was said) that there are these intent coming from some manufacturers to have clinical trials for children here,” she said in an online briefing.

“Maganda talaga kung meron tayong sarili natin na test or clinical trials na isasagawa para sa ating mga kabataan (It would be good to have our own clinical trials for children),” she added.

Vergeire said Chinese firm Sinovac was also “contemplating” revising its clinical trial in the Philippines, which had yet to begin as of late May. Its vaccine was found to be effective in children as young as 3 years old.

“Pinag-uusapan pa ‘yan at titingnan natin kung ito ay matutuloy at paano natin ito gagawin (That is being discussed and we will see if these will push through and how these will be done),” she said.

On Tuesday, the Philippines expanded its emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to allow its use on individuals aged 12 and above.

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the inoculation of minors could possibly begin in the fourth quarter of the year once the supply of vaccines has stabilized.

The DOH has also made clear that teenagers and kids will not get vaccinated yet due to the supply scarcity.

“Children are the least affected by this virus, they have the least risk of having severe infections from this virus and having to be hospitalized,” Vergeire reiterated. “Until the supplies are here, we cannot recommend that children be included in our priorities for vaccination.”

She said the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines both agreed that more vulnerable groups should be inoculated against COVID-19 ahead of children.

The medical societies also said kids with comorbidities should be prioritized once the vaccine supply is enough to cover minors.

The Philippines has vaccinated over 4.6 million health workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, and essential workers as of June 8. (MNS)

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