A HOUSE leader on Wednesday pushed for the Philippines to become a production hub of the Russian Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine once its safety and efficacy are proven by Philippine health officials.
San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida P. Robes, chairperson of the House committee on people participation, is conducting meetings with the Russian Embassy in the Philippines to tackle the latest developments on the clinical studies being conduct on Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine for COVID-19.
During her last committee meeting on the issue, Robes said once the safety and efficacy of Sputnik V is established by the Departments of Health and Science and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration, she will personally work to make the Philippines a production hub for the vaccine in order to make it affordable to all Filipinos.
“What the Russian government is offering to us will make the COVID-19 vaccines more affordable to all Filipinos and will enhance the knowledge and expertise of our scientists in vaccine production which they can use in the development of vaccines of other diseases,” Robes said.
Robes pointed out that Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev told the meeting that Russia is the only country in the world that is pushing for joint partnership with the Philippines on the vaccine’s production.
“The good Ambassador told the House of Representatives that his country is the only country in the world which offers not only to supply of vaccine but also its production which means that they are committed to a long-term, robust strategic partnership with the Republic of the Philippines. They come to forge a beneficial partnership for all Filipino generations to come,” Robes said.
During the meeting, Vladisav Mongush, Commercial Advisor of the Russian Embassy, also informed the committee that Russia has long established the efficacy and safety of Sputnik V that it has started vaccinating its population since September and disseminated the vaccine to its regions. It has also distributed its vaccines to Venezuela.
In the Philippines, the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) together with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is the only Russian state-owned institution responsible for the production and distribution of the vaccine, is currently evaluating the safety of Sputnik V under the phase 1 and phase 2 of the clinical trials.
He added that as soon as the DoH and DoST obtain positive results of the tests and evaluation, phase 3 or the final stage of the clinical trials will begin. Phase 3, which is the human trial, is expected to last for 3 months and if all goes well, the vaccine may be made available in the early part of 2021.
Mongush also told the committee that the Russian government is looking for a reputable local clinical research organization to help the Philippine refine the Russian protocol for phase 3 of the trials. “We need a reliable partner to review our protocols to adjust to the local condition,” he said.
Robes said she will again conduct another meeting with the DoH, DoST, Department of Budget Management (DBM) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the status of the vaccine trials.
“We will continue to hold meetings with our local officials because this is the only way to give hope to our people. We are all praying for a vaccine and the Sputnik V may be what we have been praying for,” Robes said.