MANILA -- Moscow is eyeing building a pharmaceutical facility in the Philippines that will manufacture Russia's vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus, Malacañang said Thursday.
Outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev, who met with Duterte on Wednesday, reported Moscow would negotiate with Manila about the facility, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Sinabi nga po niya na mayroon lang silang kaunting inaayos at babalik po ang kanyang kapalit para makipag-usap doon sa pagtayo nga ng manufacturing ng kanilang Sputnik 5 dito po sa Pilipinas," he said in a television interview.
(He said that they were just ironing out something and his replacement would return to talk about the manufacturing of their Sputnik 5 vaccine here in the Philippines.)
The Sputnik 5 is among 3 vaccine candidates that will be tested in a Phase 3 trial involving thousands of participants in the Philippines. The other 2 potential vaccines are from China and a western company, he said.
"Ang inaasahan nga po natin, dahil nasa third and final clinical trial na sila ay hindi na po magtatagal na magkakaroon na tayo," said Roque.
(We expect that since they are on the third and final clinical trial, it won't take long and we will have a vaccine.)
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday his government has the money to procure coronavirus vaccines but he would need more as he wants to inoculate the country's entire population.
The government aims to get vaccines to all Filipinos, which Duterte said now number around 113 million, but priority would be given to the poor, the police and military personnel.
"All should have the vaccine without exception," Duterte said in a late-night televised address.
The Philippines recorded 1,910 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, and 78 more fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 346,536 cases, the highest in Southeast Asia, and 6,449 deaths.
It has been gradually reopening the economy to allow more businesses to resume operations and more people to go back to work, but partial restrictions in and around the capital Manila remain to keep the virus spread in check.
- With reports from Agence France-Presse; Reuters