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Philippines and Russia to start simultaneous COVID vaccine trials in October

The Philippines and Russia will begin simultaneous clinical trials of the Russian vaccine against COVID-19 in October, the Philippine government of Rodrigo Duterte confirmed on Thursday.

The tests of phase 3 will last until March of next year and will be financed entirely by Russia, the presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, clarified at a press conference.

The Philippine government expects to register the vaccine with the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by April, Roque said.

Phase 3 clinical trials, according to the FDA, involve “300 to 3,000 volunteers who have the disease or condition” and aim to test efficacy and monitor adverse drug reactions.

President Duterte indicated late Monday that he had accepted the offer of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to supply the Russian vaccine in the Philippines for free, hours before the Russian president announced to the world that Moscow had registered the first vaccine against COVID-19.

The Russian vaccine, dubbed Sputnik – as the first successful satellite in the Cold War space race – has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute, in coordination with the country’s Ministry of Defense.

Duterte, 75, then indicated his full confidence in the effectiveness of the Russian vaccine, which he considered “a good for all mankind”, and declared that he would be the first to apply it publicly when it is ready.

“Duterte could be inoculated with the drug at the latest in May,” Roque said of the president’s promise.

The Philippines is now the main focus of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia with more than 143,000 cases, including 2,400 deaths, and Duterte has suggested on more than one occasion that the country will not be able to return to normal, with the start of the course school, the total reactivation of the economy and the reopening of borders, until there is no vaccine available.

In the past, the president also assured that when there was a vaccine against COVID-19, the poorest communities would be the first to be immunized, which has raised suspicions among some Filipinos, who on social networks have complained that they are go to use the poor as guinea pigs for the Russian vaccine.

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