• Melo Acuna

Collaboration, key to vaccine discovery

Collaboration among countries, research groups, key to vaccine discovery; cites Chinese contribution

MANILA – While it costs a minimum of US$2.6 billion to formulate a vaccine, various drug companies and countries have collaborated to find the necessary vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19 virus.

Speaking at an online forum sponsored by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Drs. Beaver Tamesis, country president of MSD Philippines, Jean Antoine Zinsou, Sanofi Pasteur Philippines General Manager and Andreas Riedel, country manager of Pfizer Philippines, they said different drug companies are into serious research to develop the needed vaccine for COVID-19.

Dr. Tamesis who sits as President of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines(PHAP) said a minimum of US$2.6 billion is needed to formulate vaccines after a long process of research and clinical trials.

Dr. Zinsou said collaboration among countries and different groups have paved the way to develop the vaccine sooner.

Sanofi is part of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations where there’s information sharing among countries and research groups. The WHO sees to it there’s sharing of information,” he said.

He credited China for sharing the gene type of the virus in early January “and we have access to all information through collaboration.”

Asked if scientific researches will not be wasted should the virus mutate and may no longer be susceptible to the vaccine, Dr. Tamesis said it is imperative to find which part of the virus is more stable and would not mutate immediately.

“It is critical to find out which part of the virus can illicit an antibody response,” he added.

Dr. Zinsou said President Duterte’s offer of P50 million to whoever among Filipino experts can formulate the vaccine is an “encouraging signal” and would motivate people to help in finding a safe and efficacious vaccine.

While it is true that billions of dollars are spent in research and development and not all the vaccines may not reach the market at all, “we are all in it together” said Pfizer’s Andreas Riedel. (Melo M. Acuña)

Drs. Beaver Tamesis, PHAP President and MSD country manager, Jean Antoine Sinzou, Sanofi Pasteur General Manager and Mr. Andreas Riedel, Pfizer Philippines country manager. (Screen grab photos from FOCAP Forum/Melo M. Acuna)

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