By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,339 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, including  2,590 cases in Metro Manila, bringing the country total to 178,022–the most in southeast Asia.

Of the 61,000 active cases, health officials report about 91.3 percent were mild, 6.6 percent were asymptomatic, 0.9 percent were severe, and 1.2 percent were critical patients.

Eighty-eight additional COVID-19 related deaths were also recorded today, putting the Philippines death toll at 2,883.

On Wednesday, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) stated that clinical trials on a COVID-19 vaccine will start in the country toward the end of the year and will likely be available in the Philippines by the second quarter of 2021.

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DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force’s sub-technical working group on vaccine development, said the clinical trials would involve not just the vaccine made in Russia, but also those pre-qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of the Solidarity Trial.

Earlier, she said the Philippines will undertake the clinical trials Phase 3 for four or five vaccines that are pre-qualified by WHO. Moreover, the DOST is pursuing collaboration with bilateral partners, whereby vaccine companies may undertake clinical trial Phase 3 in the country.