Filipino children will soon be eligible for a clinical trial of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH discussed with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other experts regarding possible vaccine trials for kids.

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

“Maganda talaga kung meron tayong sarili natin na test or clinical trials na isasagawa para sa ating mga kabataan,” she added.

Chinese firm Sinovac was also “contemplating” to revise its clinical trial in the Philippines. Its vaccine was found to be effective in children as young as 3 years old, Vergeire said.

“Pinag-uusapan pa ‘yan at titingnan natin kung ito ay matutuloy at paano natin ito gagawin,” she said.

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

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the jab for the minors may possibly begin in the fourth quarter of the year given that the supply of vaccines has stabilized.

 “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 stressed. “Until the supplies are here, we cannot recommend that children be included in our priorities for vaccination.”

Vergeire added that 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, she further said.

The Philippines has inoculated over 4.6 million health workers, senior citizens, persons with comorbidities, and essential workers as of June 8. Ronald Espartinez