Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized the need to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine to be used in the country is safe and effective, warning against rushing its development.

“Ang importante ay maging safe po ito (COVID-19 vaccine) para sa ating mga kababayan,” Go said during a radio interview on Friday, October 23, adding that the proper development process must be followed before using a vaccine.

“Inilatag ni Department of Health Secretary (Francisco) Duque ang timeline ng vaccine development and trial sa bansa, until March 2021 ang estimated time na matatapos ang phase 3 trial,” he said.

“Ibig sabihin, dadaan ito sa mga clinical trials. Importante po ay maging safe ito sa Pilipino,” he added.

Once a vaccine is certified safe and effective for use, the Senator said that the poor and vulnerable sectors must be prioritized so they can immediately resume their lives normally.

“Kami naman ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte, kapag mayro’n nang vaccine na available at nadeklarang safe na po ito ay uunahin namin ang mga mahihirap at ‘yung mga vulnerable sector,” he said.

Go, then, warned against rushing the production and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying “Ang amin lang dito ay ‘wag tayong masyadong magmadali dahil napakaimportante po na ma-declare ito as safe.”

“Ayaw natin na mayro’n na namang another controversy na mangyayari tungkol dito sa vaccine. Importante po para sa amin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he added.

Meanwhile, Go said that there is an ongoing collaboration between multinational drug companies and Philippine authorities regarding the conduct of clinical trials and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Nakausap ko rin po kagabi si (Food and Drug Administration Administrator) Director General Eric Domingo, mayro’n na hong mga iba’t ibang—katulad ng Sinovac—nag-a-apply dito sa Pilipinas. So, ang gagawin nyan magkakaroon ng clinical trial na po sa ating bansa at, I’m sure, marami pang iba na mag-a-apply,” he added.

Go also urged the Department of Science and Technology, the lead agency in charge of the COVID-19 clinical trials to ensure that the process are expedited but still in accordance with the applicable scientific standards.

“So antay-antay lang po tayo. Ang importante rito ay maging safe po at ongoing ang coordination natin with the World Health Organization on vaccine development and they have identified places and hospitals that will be used for the clinical trial phase 3,” he said.

“Importante rito ay pumasa po ito sa ating clinical trials,” he added.

Earlier, Go said that the government had already set aside funds for the purchase and development of the COVID-19 vaccine and is looking to secure additional funding to expand the immunization program.

“Mayroon pong nakalaan na budget para pambili ng vaccine. Naghahanap ang ating finance managers ng pera kung sakaling kulang pa po,” said Go before.

Until then, the Senator encouraged the public to continue adhering to the health and safety protocols, such as wearing masks and face shields, observing social distancing and frequent hand washing, among others, to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Ako’y natutuwa na ang Pilipino ay disiplinado po at sumusunod sa paalaala ng gobyerno. Just cooperate with the government. Para po ito sa inyo. Lahat po ng aming ginagawa ay para sa inyo po,” he said urging Filipinos to continue adhering to health protocols.

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