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Sputnik V availability in Philippines seen by April 2021

Russia's anti-COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V could be available for commercial use in the Philippines by April 2021, a Philippine official who recently met with Russian authorities said Thursday.

Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of Philippine Council for Health Research, was part of a team of Philippine health and vaccine experts who met with representatives of Sputnik V's Russian manufacturer Gamaleya and other Russian investors in connection with Phase 3 of clinical trials in the Philippines.

“Kailangan approved muna ng Russian FDA (Food and Drug Administration) bago ma-approve ng FDA ng ibang bansa. Ang projection po nila (Russians) ng kanilang FDA approval ay January 2021,” Montoya said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

“Pag na-approve na po nila, pag-aaralan po ng FDA natin rito, kaya mga second quarter po, mga April 2021, ma-approve rito, magiging available na po rito,” he added.

Montoya then said that Russia's FDA approval is different from the Russian government's approval of Sputnik V since the latter approval is only a certification for emergency use given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ginagawa lang po iyong [certification for emergency use] pag may pandemya. Iyong use po noon, pang healthcare workers lang po at mga high risk [population],” Montoya said.

“Di pa po puwede gamitin ng maramihan,” he added.

Montoya also said that the Russians have expressed willingness to conduct Phase 3 of the clinical trials for Sputnik V in the Philippines at no cost, as long as they are provided with manpower and venue to conduct the trials.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to provide the country with a vaccine against COVID-19. He even said he is willing to try it on during clinical trials.

Both Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, however, have said that Sputnik V, which has not been cleared by the World Health Organization, needs further study.

Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, for one, has been vocal about his concerns, urging the Department of Health (DOH) to be cautious in the process of evaluating a vaccine for COVID-19.

"Ako po ay nababahala sa mainit na balita na ang Russia ay maglalabas na ng vaccine para sa COVID-19. I have nothing against the Russians nor am I connected to any preferred country or vaccine manufacturer," Remulla said in a Facebook post.

Amid Putin's announcement of a vaccine against COVID-19, WHO said its stamp of approval on a vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review.

"We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine," said the United Nations health agency's spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.

"Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data."

A total of 168 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, according to a WHO overview published earlier this week.

Of those, 28 have progressed to the various phases of being tested on humans, of which six are the furthest ahead, having reached Phase 3 of clinical trials. —KBK, GMA News