Three potential COVID-19 vaccines will be tested in the Philippines, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said today.
“We have three vaccines which would undergo clinical trials [here in the country]. This includes one from Russia, another from China, and if I’m not mistaken another one from a Western country. I’m not sure if this is from [Astra Zeneca’s] Oxford [vaccine] or from the United States,” Roque told news program Unang Hirit in an interview.
“We are expecting that since we are in the third and final clinical trial is that we will have [a vaccine] soon,” he said in English and Filipino.
President Rodrigo Duterte said last night in a publicly broadcast briefing that the government has enough funds to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, but he is seeking a bigger budget because he wants all 113 million Filipinos vaccinated. He also said that he was willing to be the first to get the vaccine, which could come from either Russia or China, to prove that the drug is safe. He also said, without offering proof, that a vaccine would be ready for distribution by April 2021.
Roque said today that Duterte has received information that a vaccine is already being used in China.
“This means that aside from those three that will have clinical trials in the Philippines this one in China is already being used so we’re preparing for that…We’re not taking any chances. If we have to pay, we will pay. If we need to take out a loan, we will get a loan [to buy the vaccine],” Roque said.
The Department of Science and Technology announced last week that the Russian-made Sputnik V, the China-made Sinovac, and Janssen from Johnson & Johnson will be tested in the Philippines. However, Johnson & Johnson announced earlier this week that it is putting its trial on hold because one of the participants became ill.
Meanwhile, Sputnik V has attracted much controversy because scientists fear that Moscow has cut corners in its development, making it ineffective or worse, unsafe. But that doesn’t seem to worry Duterte who bragged in a public speech several months ago that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had promised to give the Philippines free vials of the experimental coronavirus vax.
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