PH vaccine panel to meet with Russian COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Wednesday

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 01:01 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 03:03 PM

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Russian Direct Investment Fund, Handout/AFP​

MANILA — The Philippines' vaccine panel will meet Wednesday with Russia's vaccine manufacturer to discuss the latter's newly approved COVID-19 vaccine, according to Manila's health ministry.

“Ngayong araw na ito, may scheduled meeting na ang Department of Science and Technology with the manufacturer ng Russia. Itong Gamaleya,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

(Today, there will be a scheduled meeting between the Department of Science and Technology and the manufacturer of Russia, Gamaleya.)

The vaccine from Russia was developed by the government-operated Gamaleya Research Institute and was backed by its Defense Ministry.

While Russia claims that it is the first to have a COVID-19 vaccine, many have questioned the process it went through, especially since the vaccine received regulatory approval without finishing its Phase III trials.

It has only been less than 2 months since they started Phase I safety trials. Phase III refers to large-scale clinical trials to check for the efficacy of the vaccine.

The COVID-19 frontrunners being monitored by the World Health Organization are still undergoing Phase III trials. 

“Ang pag-uusapan ngayon with the Department of Science and Technology (is) how we can have the clinical trial here in the Philippines,” Vergeire said.

(They will be discussing with the Department of Science and Technology how we can have a clinical trial here in the Philippines.)

A Department of Health (DOH) staff said the meeting is scheduled at 2:30 p.m.

Vergeire assured the public that the clinical trial application will undergo the necessary regulatory process, including approval of an ethics board and the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.

“We can assure the public that we are going to study this,” Vergeire said, adding that the country's expert panel will ask for a complete “dossier” of the Gamaleya vaccine and study it to check if the vaccine underwent the necessary clinical trials.

The Russian ambassador earlier said Moscow is ready to supply vaccines or even have local production in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for the offer.

Vergeire said the DOST vaccine panel had already presented the vaccines that may undergo clinical trials in the Philippines and how many can be produced in a year.

The health official said the DOH is now assessing the needs of the country, and if the Philippines can indeed get supplies from vaccine developers.

The Philippines has logged 139,538 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which, 68,794 are active, as of Tuesday.