MANILA (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – The Philippines has approved Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ application to conduct a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the South-east Asian nation.
“In the next few weeks, we will be able to begin clinical trials,” Food and Drug Administration Director-General Eric Domingo said in a press briefing on Tuesday (Dec 29).
The trial applications of Chinese firms Sinovac Biotech and Sichuan Clover Biopharmaceuticals are still under review, he said.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is under review for emergency use, Mr Domingo said.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday extended partial coronavirus restrictions in the capital, Manila, until the end of January to prevent the spread of Covid-19 following Christmas and holiday festivities.
The capital region, which accounts for 40 per cent of the country’s economic output and is home to at least 12 million people, remains the coronavirus hotspot in the Philippines, which has the second highest infections and deaths in South-east Asia.
An urban sprawl of 16 cities fused together, the capital region has been under partial curbs since August.
Physical distancing is enforced on public transport, and face masks and shields are required for anyone stepping out of their homes.
Most businesses, including dine-in services, have been allowed to reopen at reduced capacity to support the economy.
Healthcare workers are bracing for a surge in infections following holiday merrymaking.
The Philippines has 470,650 cases and 9,124 deaths from Covid-19, with around a thousand new infections reported daily.