Duterte may be inoculated by Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine shots by May 2021

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If ever, President Rodrigo Duterte might be the very first Filipino to be inoculated with the Russian COVID-19 vaccine by May of next year at the earliest, Malacañang said Thursday.

This, as the Philippines gears up for its clinical trial beginning this year.

Duterte, 75, volunteered to be among the first to be inoculated in public. He might be immunized with the Russian vaccine by May 1, 2021 at the earliest, if the drug is proven safe and effective by March next year, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“Inaasahan natin na pupwedeng magpabakuna ang ating Presidente dito po sa Russian na bakuna sa Mayo 1, 2021 (We expect that the President can be immunized with the Russian vaccine by May 1, 2021.),” Roque said.

The Philippines and Russia are planning to run phase 3 clinical trials of Moscow’s coronavirus vaccine from October this year to March next year, Roque said, noting that the drug might be registered with the local Food and Drug Administration by April next year.

According to the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  Phase 3 clinical trials involve “300 to 3,000 volunteers who have the disease or condition.”

It is meant to test the efficacy and monitoring of adverse reactions of the drug.

“Sa Abril, inaasahang marerehistro po ang bakuna ng Russia. At ibig sabihin po, sa Mayo 1, 2021 pa lamang na pupwedeng magpasaksak ng bakuna mula sa Russia ang ating Presidente (We expect the Russian vaccine to be registered by April, which means that it is only by May 1, 2021 that our President can be inoculated with the drug.),” Roque said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his country as the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday even though final stage testing only started this week.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country’s defense ministry.

Western scientists have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization’s spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in “close contact” with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval.

“Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data,” Jasarevic said.

In Berlin, a spokesman for the German health ministry told newspaper group RND that “there is no known data on the quality, efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine,” adding that “patient safety is of the highest priority.”

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard, more than 20.6 million infections have been recorded across the world, with deaths nearing the 750,000-mark.

The Philippines and Russia are planning to start phase 3 clinical trials of Moscow’s coronavirus vaccine by October, Malacañang said, raising hopes on a solution to the pandemic that has infected over 20 million people worldwide.

The tests will run until March of next year and will be done simultaneously in Manila and Moscow, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Russia will fund the trials in the Philippines, he added.

Phase 3 clinical trials, according to the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), involve “300 to 3,000 volunteers who have the disease or condition,” and aim to test the efficacy and monitoring of adverse reactions to the drug.

“Mula Oktubre naman po hanggang Marso ng susunod na taon ay magkakaroon ng clinical trial phase 3. Simultaneous po ‘yan sa Russia at Pilipinas (From October to March of next year, there will be phase 3 of clinical trials. That will be done simultaneously in Russia and the Philippines.),” said Roque.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Russia the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday even though final stage testing only started this week.

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country’s defense ministry.

Roque said the government expects the Russian vaccine to be registered with the local Food and Drug Administration by April./Stacy Ang

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