President Rodrigo Duterte — if he isn’t joking this time around — said last night in a publicly broadcast speech that he would gladly participate in Russia’s clinical trials for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Duterte said that he was “delighted” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is handing out the unapproved vaccines to the Philippines for free.
“[T]hey didn’t say ‘pay for this.’ I think this is President Putin’s way of helping us; it’s free. So we are accepting it, and we will talk [about] how much of the supply we need,” Duterte said in English and Filipino.
However, the vaccines have yet to clear local clinical trials. The experimental vaccine will be used on a small group of Filipino volunteers to test their safety and effectiveness.
“You will be given the vaccine and [we will look at] the reaction of your body if it will accept it or not…Me, when the virus comes, so that there will be no complaints [from critics], I will have it injected to me in [front of the] public,” the president said.
“I will be the first to be experimented on, that is OK by me…If it will work on me, it will work on everyone,” Duterte assured.
In his State of the Nation Address delivered last month, Duterte said that he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping (also a good friend of his) to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines once it becomes available.
Meanwhile, the Russian health minister has announced plans to register the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine within the week. This, despite the scientific community expressing skepticism and safety concerns on the speed of the vaccine’s production, with a vaccine maker saying that it typically takes 10 years or longer to develop and test for safety and effectivity.
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