President Rodrigo Duterte could get a shot of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V on May 1, 2021, his official spokesman Harry Roque said today.
The catch? That’s only if the unapproved drug clears Phase 3 of clinical trials, the third and final stage in the drug development process, which requires injecting the experimental vaccine to thousands of people to check if it will protect them from the coronavirus. The trials will commence simultaneously in Russia and the Philippines.
Roque said in a press briefing that Sputnik V must first undergo a vaccine expert panel review in September, after which the experimental drug will be administered to some 300 to 3,000 volunteers who have been infected with the coronavirus.
“Starting October to March next year, we will conduct the clinical trial Phase 3. [This will be done] simultaneously in Russia and the Philippines,” the spokesman said in English and Filipino.
He said that the controversial Russian vax — whose safety and effectiveness is being questioned by members of the scientific community — will be up for approval from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a month after completing the trials. Duterte can only be injected with the vaccine after it’s been approved by the FDA and his bodyguards, the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
“May 1 is [the date] when the PSG may allow him [to be immunized] after [the vaccine] completes the necessary tests,” Roque said.
Duterte, who has placed great faith in the vaccine despite experts’ skepticism, said earlier this week that he would volunteer to participate in its clinical trials despite not being qualified to do so. The 75-year-old president is too old to participate in the trials, which will include only those aged 18 to 59.
“It’s not a metaphorical statement. He is willing to undergo it [vaccination],” Roque said about the president.
Only volunteers will participate in the trials, Roque added.
Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology’s Council for Health Research and Development, told ABS-CBN News that the agency is looking to have at least 1,000 Filipinos join the clinical trials once the vaccine is approved.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has vouched for the vaccine’s safety, claimed that he had already injected Sputnik V on his daughter who allegedly did not display any side effects.
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