Russia to start producing 2 COVID-19 vaccines next month, say embassy officials in PH

Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2020 07:00 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 - Russia will start producing 2 vaccines for protection against COVID-19 by October 2020, officials of the Russian embassy in the Philippines said Thursday.

Appearing in a virtual conference before the House Committee on People Participation, Vladimir Mongush, commercial adviser to the Russian embassy, said production of Sputnik V by Gamaleya Research Institute and another COVID-19 vaccine by Vector Institute in Siberia will start next month.

Mongush said Russia will start its mass vaccination effort by middle of this month, inoculating teachers, doctors and nurses who they consider as frontliners.

Russia reiterated its readiness to help countries like the Philippines to produce their vaccines locally.

“The pandemic of the corona virus is the common threat no one country can fight... Only (through) joint efforts we can succeed,” said Tatiana Shlychkova, Russian Minister Counsellor who also attended the virtual conference.

Shlychkova said they are ready to impart their technology and expertise in producing the vaccine, which could also be used to produce other vaccines if a new virus emerges.

Mongush said Philippine officials already have documents related to the vaccine and are now being reviewed after signing a non-disclosure agreement.

However, he said the local Philippine production of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine will depend on how fast protocols are approved by the government.

He said the availability of the vaccine locally would depend on such factors as local registration and the conduct of Phase 3 clinical trials in the country.

Mongush said that aside from vaccine development, vaccine safety is equally important.

Shlychkova said manufacturing the vaccine locally will also benefit the economy, saying that "setting (up) local manufacturers here will increase capabilities" in the Philippines.

But Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a former Philippine Health Secretary, is apprehensive about producing the vaccine locally.

“I just have some apprehension on the Sputnik vaccine. I’m actually a vaccinologist by profession. I trained in Geneva in advance vaccinology. If the plan is to collaborate, that would not be a problem. But if the plan is to have a vaccine manufacturing plant in the Philippines, it has been tried several times. Unfortunately, the water source, especially in Luzon, would not qualify,” she said.

Garin insists it will be faster to import “vaccines directly from their (Russia) manufacturing plant duly licensed and recognized by WHO”.

The embassy officials, meanwhile, denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter died after participating in the Phase 2 trial of the vaccine, dismissing it as "fake news."