MANILA (UPDATE)—Russia is ready to supply the Philippines in what could be the world’s first vaccine against COVID-19, its diplomat to Manila said Friday.
In a virtual press briefing, Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said proposals to conduct clinical trials and the possible local production of the vaccine have been submitted to local authorities.
"We have 3 options for cooperation. First, clinical trials, if our Philippine partner considers it necessary. The second option [is] we are ready to supply vaccine to the Philippines. And third, the most promoted option, is local production of vaccine here on the Philippine soil,” Khovaev said.
“It means we are ready to combine our efforts, we are ready to make the investments together with our Philippines partners and we are ready to share our technologies, simply because we want to build a robust partnership between our 2 nations.”
Saying Russia already has an "effective" and "safe" COVID-19 vaccine, Khovaev said his government was ready to share it with interested international partners, including the Philippines.
He added that he expected the vaccine to get regulatory approval in Russia by mid-August before launching production.
Khovaev said Russian citizens would be vaccinated for free.
In response to Moscow’s offer, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he had sent a note verbale or a diplomatic note to the Russian envoy on the proposals “with profound gratitude for Russia's offer and your warm friendship.”
In a separate tweet, Locsin hinted that the proposal would still go around different local departments.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed Russia's willingness to assist the Philippines in fighting the virus.
"The DFA conveys its appreciation for Russia’s willingness to assist the Philippines in its fight against COVID-19, as well as its offer to supply the SARS-COV-2 vaccine developed by N.F. Gamaleya of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation," the agency said.
The DFA added that Russia's offer will be evaluated by other relevant government agencies.
To date, the number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines has reached 122,754, with 3,379 new infections reported Friday.
The nationwide caseload includes 2,168 fatalities, 66,852 recoveries and 53,734 active cases.