MANILA - Malacañang assured the public Thursday that the Philippines would undertake an independent scientific review of Russia's coronavirus vaccine even after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence in the drug ahead of the completion of final stage testing.
Duterte, in a public address earlier this week, said he believes that the Russian-developed drug is "really good for humanity."
As the Philippines gears up to run simultaneous clinical trials with Russia on the COVID-19 vaccine, Duterte's spokesperson assured the public that the panel review of the drug cannot be influenced by the President's earlier remarks.
"This is conducted by scientists, not politicians so I think they will be following strict scientific protocols," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo on Thursday said the Philippines has to be "very careful" in its participation in the final stage of clinical trials for the Sputnik V vaccine since the government needs to "rebuild confidence in vaccines."
"We have to make sure before we roll out a vaccine that it’s safe and effective,” he said.
Controversy over the anti-dengue Dengvaxia vaccine, which was said to have side effects when administered on those who had not contracted the mosquito-borne disease, had triggered a vaccine scare in the country last year.
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday announced that Russia has made a breakthrough with the Sputnik V vaccine, declaring it as the first coronavirus vaccine even though final stage testing only started this week.
The vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Russia's defense ministry, has raised concerns as it has yet to complete testing.
Duterte, however, has expressed trust in Sputnik V, even volunteering to be among the first to be injected in public to prove its safety and efficacy.