MANILA -- Russia's coronavirus vaccine might be available in the Philippines as early as November or December after its large-scale human testing here, the head of the organization funding the drug's development said Friday.
The state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) can "sponsor and organize" the clinical trials of 500 to 1,000 people in the Philippines "as early as August or maybe even early September," said its CEO Kirill Dmitriev.
"If we work very closely with your regulators, if we work very closely with your health minister, we can actually make the vaccine available to Philippines as early as November or early December," he said in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News' Karen Davila.
The Philippine testing "will be part of a much larger trial in Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Brazil," Dmitriev said.
"We really have a special relationship with Philippines and that is why we want you to have a clinical trial so that your scientists, your regulators can really experience this vaccine, see how it works," he said.
"I think it’s a very important example to other nations because vaccine is the ultimate solution and the ultimate win against the coronavirus," he added.
'HEADSTART' IN VACCINE RACE
Moscow earlier worked on a vaccine against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which is genetically close to COVID-19, giving Russia a "very important headstart" in the immunization race, said Dmitriev.
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is based on 2 viral vectors. The first is called Ad26, which is similar to a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Johnson&Johnson, and the second is called Ad5 similar to a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by China's CanSino Biologics, he said.
"It's an approach that other people are also using. But we are the ones who have both 5 and 26 vectors... It's much better and more long-lasting than just using one," Dmitriev said.
Russia has started distributing the vaccine to high-risk groups while phase 3 trials are ongoing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had his daughter vaccinated against COVID-19, said Dmitriev. He said he, his wife and 74-year-old parents also received the vaccine.
"We believe in the vaccine, but we want of course all of the regulators and experts to confirm it’s safe and efficient," he said.
"It's totally unethical not to make this technology available to people."
Moscow has received requests for 1 billion dosages of the vaccine and is working to manufacture it in Russia and 5 other countries, said Dmitriev.
Philippine authorities on Friday are expected to receive the RDIF's data on the first stages of trial for the vaccine dubbed "Sputnik V" after the pioneering Soviet satellite of the 1950s. The data will be published in August, he said.
"The data shows that 100 percent of the people in clinical trial developed very strong immunity. There were no significant side effects," he said.
The Philippines, which is struggling to contain the virus, has accepted Russia's offer to participate in production of the vaccine.
The Philippines has logged the highest number of confirmed infections in Southeast Asia with more than 147,500 cases and over 2,400 deaths.
With reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse