Duterte's dilemma: After Russian vaccine, can I get COVID-19 shots from other countries?

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 02:48 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10, 2020. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is facing a "dilemma" on coronavirus vaccine clinical trials, Malacañang said Tuesday after the chief executive volunteered to be immunized with Russia's newly developed drug.

Duterte on Monday night welcomed Moscow's offer to supply Manila with COVID-19 vaccines, saying he would volunteer to be inoculated in public to show that the drug from Russia is safe.

The President made the statement weeks after he said that the Philippines' first COVID-19 vaccine might come from China. Russia has just announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine is ready for registration in just a few days.

"Ang dilemma ni Presidente noong sinabi niya na siya 'yung mangunguna na kumuha ng vaccine, ang tanong niya: kung magpa-vaccine ako sa Russia, puwede pa ba ako magpa-vaccine sa China? Puwede pa ba ako magpa-vaccine sa England at sa Amerika?" Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(The President's dilemma when he volunteered to be the first to try the vaccine is: If I get vaccinated under Russia's program, can I still try the one from China? Can I still try the one from England and America?)

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, according to Roque, told the President he might not be able to do so.

The 75-year-old Philippine leader, according to Roque, is willing to risk his life with the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials to ensure its safety for the Filipino public.

"Kung kinakailangan nga na isugal niya ang buhay niya para masigurado na itong vaccine na ito ay makakasalba ng buhay dito sa Pilipinas gagawin po niya iyon," the Palace mouthpiece said.

(If he needs to risk his life to ensure that the vaccine can save lives here in the Philippines, he would do that.)

"Ang sentimyento po niya ay handa po siyang ialay ang sarili niyang buhay para maisalba ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan," he added.

(His sentiment is he is ready to offer his life to save the lives of Filipinos.)

Russia has announced plans of a COVID-19 immunization campaign before the year ends with a coronavirus vaccine that has raised international concern on the methods used by the country to compete in the global race to develop an immunization drug.

Roque, however, assured the public that the country's Food and Drug Administration would scrutinize vaccines that would be developed by other countries to ensure that it is safe for mass distribution.

"Dadaan din po 'yan sa proseso natin 'yan at naiintindihan naman po ng mga Russian yan," Roque said.

(That will still undergo the process and the Russians understand that.)

Coronavirus vaccines from China, the United States, and the United Kingdom are at the most advanced stage of development and had entered Phase 3 trials or large-scale testing on humans -- the last step before regulatory approval.