Russia Will Allow Philippines’ Duterte to Take Coronavirus Vaccine in May 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte during a meeting in Moscow late on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / MAXIM SHEMETOV (Photo credit should read MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be eligible to receive Russia’s new coronavirus vaccine on May 1, 2021, his spokesman said Thursday.

Duterte on Monday volunteered to be the first person to receive the Chinese coronavirus vaccine allegedly registered by Russia this week. However, at 75 years old, the president’s age disqualifies him from taking the vaccine, as it is so far only approved for people between the ages of 18 and 60. Although it has yet to clear local clinical trials, the Kremlin claims the vaccine — developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute — is safe for civilian use.

Duterte on Monday announced that Filipino volunteers will participate in the vaccine’s clinical trials. Once the third and final phase of clinical trials is completed next fall, Duterte may receive the vaccine, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday, according to Coconuts Manila.

“Starting October to March next year, we will conduct the clinical trial Phase 3. [This will be done] simultaneously in Russia and the Philippines,” Roque said at a press briefing.

The vaccine will be eligible for approval by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) one month after completing the trials, Roque said. Then, if approved by the Philippine FDA, the vaccine must also be cleared by Duterte’s Presidential Security Group (PSG) before he will be allowed to test it.

“May 1 is [the date] when the PSG may allow him [to be immunized] after [the vaccine] completes the necessary tests,” Roque said.

The vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, must first be evaluated by an expert panel review in September 2021 before the experimental drug can be administered to some 300 to 3,000 volunteers, he added.

Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, told the Philippines’ ABS-CBN News that the agency hopes to have at least 1,000 Filipinos volunteer for the clinical trials if the vaccine is approved.

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