Russia eyes production of potential COVID-19 vaccine in Philippines

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2020 06:51 PM

MANILA - Russia is looking to partner with the Philippines on the mass production of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, its envoy to Manila said Wednesday, a move seen to further promote closer bilateral relations between the 2 countries.

"We are ready to share our technology... We want to cultivate a long-term partnership, which will be beneficial for both countries," Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev said in a virtual forum organized by the Philippine-Russian Business Assembly.

"Our final aim is to produce the Russian vaccine here in the Philippines," he added.

Russia's coronavirus vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, had shown encouraging results in 2 small trials, according to data published in Britain's prestigious medical journal, The Lancet.

The vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in coordination with the Russian defense ministry, is "safe, well tolerated, and does not cause serious adverse events in healthy adult volunteers," the report showed.

"This publication itself is a testament to the safety of the vaccine... The Russian vaccine is 100 percent safe and effective," Khovaev said.

The vaccine, named after the world's first satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, will still undergo large-scale testing or Phase 3 clinical trial to assess its safety and efficacy.

The Philippines and Russia have been negotiating on holding possible Phase 3 clinical trials of Sputnik V, which the Palace earlier said could start in October.

Khovaev said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was still studying the results of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the clinical trials.

"We are ready to launch the clinical trial as soon as possible. We are ready to move forward," he added.

Khovaev said the DOST earlier committed 1,000 Filipino participants if the Phase 3 clinical trial of Sputnik V pushes through.

In August, President Rodrigo Duterte said he volunteered to publicly try the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to show that it is safe. 

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

To date, COVID-19 has infected 245,143 people in the Philippines, with 3,986 fatalities. It now has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, despite enforcing one of the world's longest quarantine periods.