COVID-19 discussion highlights vaccine safety
THE House committee on health received a briefing from experts on efforts to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, health panel chair, said the briefing seeks to identify gaps and pave the way for a robust collaborative endeavor against COVID-19.
The briefing was led by key officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST),Department of Health (DOH) and other stakeholders.
It highlighted the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Trial study for COVID-19 vaccines.
Tackled were COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy; the study on the mix and match of vaccine brands and their effectiveness.
The Solidarity Trial aims to evaluate the efficacy of a two-dose regimen of SARS-CoV-2 candidate vaccine against the RT-PCR confirmed symptomatic COVID-19.
“The participation in the Solidarity Vaccine Trials is one of the best strategies that will allow the Philippines to avail of newer COVID-19 vaccine candidates,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.
He added the ongoing study to evaluate the safety of mixing COVID-19 vaccines in Filipino adults will address supply shortages.
This would be also offer flexibility in the administration of the second dose.
Meanwhile, surveillance among fully vaccinated adults will help confirm vaccine effectiveness.
This will be of immediate benefit to vaccinated individuals, health facilities, and the government.
It will also as address data gaps in the immune response elicited by natural infection and vaccination.
Experts, however, reminded on the limitations of the COVID-19 antibody, or serology, testing.
“Antibody tests should not be used at this time to determine immunity against COVID-19.”
“This is especially after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccination.”
Thus said Dr. Regina Berba of the UP Manila – National Institute of Health (NIH).
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that antibody tests are not one-size-fits-all.
It added that misinterpreting antibody test results could lead people to take fewer precautions or cause vaccine hesitancy.
Experts said the vaccines can lead to positive antibody results on some tests.
Meanwhile, lack of antibodies detected does not mean a vaccinated person did not have a protective immune response.
Tan, a medical doctor, reiterated the experts’ call against the antibody tests.
“I would like to call on the DOH and other concerned agencies to regulate health facilities offering serology testing among fully vaccinated adults.”
“This is to protect the integrity of the government’s vaccination program and promote vaccine confidence among Filipinos” Tan said.
An update on the study on virgin coconut oil (VCO) as dietary supplement among suspect COVID-19 patients was also presented.
It was given by Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa of the DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).
Five of 29 patients served meals with VCO manifested diminishing signs and symptoms as early as the second day.
Only one patient served with the same meals but without VCO showed similar improvement.
Based on a completed study, participants in the intervention group showed a significant decline in the C-reactive protein (CRP) level, with the mean CRP level normalized on the 14th day.
This concludes that as an adjunct therapy, meals mixed with VCO is effective in fostering COVID-19 recovery.
DOST also cited the importance of enacting the proposed bill on the establishment of the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
The proposal will give the country the capacity and independence to develop its own vaccines for relevant viral diseases.
Tan is one of the principal authors of House Bill 9559, otherwise known as the “Virology Institute of the Philippines Act.”
In her remarks, she said the bill is already approaching the final stage of the legislative process in the House of Representatives.