MANILA — The health department on Friday said it was open to Russia’s plan of setting up a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing and distributing hub in the Philippines, as the development could give country a medical advantage.
“This will provide us with that advantage. Hindi lang dito sa pandemyang ito but in the coming years na magkakaroon tayo ng pangangailangan ulit na ganito,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
(This will provide us with that advantage. Not just for this pandemic but in the coming years in case we would have this need again.)
Vergeire, quoting the Department of Trade and Industry, said the possibility was discussed during the Department of Trade and Industry's meeting with a Russian diplomat.
Vergeire said it was also discussed when Health Secretary Francisco Duque III met with the Russian ambassador Igor Khovaev.
“Hindi lang yung fill and finish na manufacturing plant meron talagang planta ng bakuna (It’s not just about a fill and finish manufacturing plant but there are also talks of an actual manufacturing plant for vaccines),” she said.
The DOH previously said the country was also considering repackaging the vaccines or taking on the fill-and-finish process since the Philippines does not have a factory yet for vaccines.
Despite the Philippines’ eagerness to set up its own vaccine plant, Vergeire said they made sure to inform the Russian government “that everything has to go through the regulatory processes."
Back in April, the World Health Organization advised the Philippines to prepare for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines. This included having laboratories that can test the quality and safety of vaccines.