Philippines ready to work with Russia on COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 03:03 PM

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte is accompanied by Russian President Vladimir Putin upon his arrival at the Polyana 1389 Hotel in Sochi, Russia for their bilateral meeting on October 3, 2019. Richard Madelo, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - The Philippines is ready to work with Russia on clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, Malacañang said Tuesday after Moscow offered to supply Manila with doses of the drug.

Calling Russia a "friend," President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he was willing to volunteer to be inoculated in public to show that the foreign vaccine was safe.

"The Philippines stands ready to work with Russia on clinical trials, vaccine supply and production, and other areas deemed practicable by relevant Philippine and Russian agencies to address this global health emergency," Malacañang said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"Consistent with the President's independent foreign policy, we continue to work with partners across the world to ensure access to a safe vaccine," it added.

Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev earlier said proposals to conduct clinical trials and the possible local production of the vaccine have been submitted to local authorities as he assured countries that Moscow already has an "effective" and "safe" COVID-19 vaccine.

He added that he expected the vaccine to get regulatory approval in Russia by mid-August before launching production.

Russia has announced plans of launching 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.

Moscow has dismissed allegations from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.

Russia's offer of coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines comes after President Duterte said the Philippines' first COVID-19 vaccine might come from China.

Chinese firms are responsible for 2 of the 3 most advanced coronavirus vaccines that had entered Phase 3 trials, or large-scale testing on humans - the last step before regulatory approval.

Under Duterte's leadership, the Philippines has fostered ties with both China and Russia. 

Both countries have also assured the Philippines would be prioritized in their respective COVID-19 vaccine developments as the Southeast Asian nation grapples with a surge of coronavirus infections.

- with a report from Agence France-Presse