Russia may start producing its potential coronavirus vaccine supply to the Philippines as early as January 2021, Philippine Ambassador to Russia to Carlos Sorreta said Monday.

vaccine 1 - Russia vaccine production for supply to PH may start in January 2021
(PIXABAY / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sorreta explained that Russian government committed to supply the vaccines once the Philippine authorities have completed its “due diligence” review on the medicine.

“In our discussions with the Russian government, (their) agency has told us that they can make available their vaccines to us,” the Filipino diplomat said during a televised Palace press briefing.

“Of course, it’s subject to doing our own due diligence on it but they can start producing for us because they have to produce it as if it’s (been) ordered. As early as January if we are ready to accept it,” he added.

Sorreta said the country must also ready with the cold storage requirements for the coronavirus vaccines from Russia. 

“They know the demand is very high so it’s really a matter of how early we can do our own due diligence and then sign an agreement, do the procurement process,” he said. “We need to be ready with some of the infrastructure para ho sa storage at the required temperatures,” he added.

He noted that a Russian vaccine that won’t require extreme temperature may be available “but it will might be a little more expensive.”

Back in August, Russia allowed the temporary conditional registration of a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, is reportedly undergoing third phase of trials involving 40,000 participants.

A second coronavirus vaccine, EpiVakKorona, was also reportedly granted regulatory approval by Russian authorities. A large-scale trial is expected to begin this month or next month.

Sorreta noted that so far, there has been “no report of adverse affect” on the  emergency use of the coronavirus vaccine in Russia. He said the coronavirus development in Russia is “quite advanced.”

He also said Russia has forged co-production agreement of the coronavirus vaccine with some countries including Korea. He said the Russia strategy was different from western pharmaceutical companies since they allow co-production. 

“They have signed agreements or are negotiating agreements in almost every region of the world to be able to supply it through widest demand possible,” he said.

“There are some details that we’re discussing together with our DOH (Department of Health) and DOST (Department of Science and Technology) and also discussing on the business side, on the regulatory side both in terms of supply and possible co-production in the Philippines,” he added.

Shortly after announcing the Sputnik vaccine, Russia offered to supply potential drug to the Philippines and may establish a manufacturing facility in the country. President Duterte accepted Russia’s offer and even volunteered to take the first shot.

Under the proposed 2021 national budget, the government has set aside an initial P2.5 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. Duterte said the government may borrow $300 million for the vaccine acquisition if necessary.

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