Russia open to cooperate with PH in COVID-19 vaccine development

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2020 06:42 PM

MANILA - Russia is ready to work with the Philippines in finding a vaccine against the coronavirus as it called for unity and for countries to set aside differences to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
This as Russia commemorated Victory Day or the surrender of Nazi Germany 75 years ago.

Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev recalled how Soviet Union, the United States, and United Kingdom overcame differences and united to defeat Nazism during World War II.
Saying that no country, big or small, can cope against the coronavirus on its own, Khovaev stressed the need for multilateral cooperation to beat the “common enemy.”
“We need to learn lessons of history… It should be a message to all of us. It’s high time to put aside all disputes, all differences, and concentrate our combined efforts in the struggle against common enemy,” Khovaev told reporters via Zoom.
“This evil can be defeated only if all of us combine our efforts.”
A top Russian research center is ready to cooperate with Philippine counterparts as it tries to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.
Khovaev said the embassy has sent information to the Philippine Department of Science and Technology and recommended that the Philippine side establish direct contact with the Russian research center.

He said the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center, located outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, is set to conduct trials soon.
“This institution is ready to cooperate with Philippine partners. As far as I know the vaccine elaborated by that scientific research institute should be verified, tested in the near future. So the Russian side is open for cooperation with Philippine partners in light [of] our fundamental approach: All of us need to combine our efforts,” Khovaev said.
Khovaev, meanwhile, revealed that the Philippines did not accept a Russian pharmaceutical company's donation of medicine for the treatment of COVID-19. Khovaev said the Philippine side determined that the anti-viral drug called Cycloferon could not be used to treat the novel diseases but thanked the Russian company for its offer.
“This donation was not accepted because this medicine can be used against the virus diseases but after the study of all materials provided by the Russian company Polysan, the Philippine side made the conclusion that this medicine cannot be used against COVID-19. That’s why the donation was not accepted," the envoy said.

"But at the same time, the Philippine government conveyed its appreciation to the Russian company Polysian for its offer to donate this medicine. But it’s up to our Philippine partners. In any case, we respect any decision taken by the Philippine side,” Khovaev said.
Russia has proposed that a special video conference among Russian and ASEAN foreign ministers be held this month to discuss best practices to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khovaev also thanked the Philippine government and the Filipino people for assisting hundreds of stranded Russian tourists in coming back home amid the lockdown. The ambassador is confident Russian tourists will come back to the Philippines, saying Russians feel very comfortable and “highly appreciate” Philippine hospitality.