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Duterte willing to risk life after accepting Russia’s vaccine offer —Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to risk his life when he volunteered to take the first shot after Russia offered to supply the Philippines with its COVID-19 vaccine, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Duterte on Monday said he was willing to be the first to get the vaccine, and have himself injected in public.

“Nag-uunahan po ang mga bansa sa buong daigdig na magkaroon ng vaccine laban sa COVID-19 at kung kinakailangan na isugal nga niya ang buhay niya para masigurado na itong vaccine na ito ay makakasalba ng buhay dito sa Pilipinas, gagawin niya po iyon,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

Roque also said that Duterte asked his Cabinet if he could still try the vaccines being developed by China, the United States and the United Kingdom if he was injected with the Russian vaccine. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III replied that it might not be possible, Roque said.

Russia became the first country to give regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine despite concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety. 

Russia named its vaccine Sputnik V, a reference to the world's first satellite and what Moscow sees as its success at becoming the first country to approve a vaccine.

The World Health Organization and Russian health authorities are currently discussing the process for possible WHO prequalification for Sputnik V.

Roque said that the vaccine will still go through an approval process before the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“He is grateful doon sa offer ng Russia. Pero sinabi rin niya na kinakailangan din nating sundin ang batas na umiiral sa Pilipinas dahil nga po walang gamot na pupuwedeng ibigay sa publiko na hindi dumadaan sa FDA,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Malacañang said the Philippines was ready to work with Russia on clinical trials, vaccine supply and production, and other areas deemed practicable by relevant Philippine and Russian agencies to address the pandemic.

All cooperation initiatives will be consistent with protocols for testing and health standards, the Palace said. — BM, GMA News