The COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V from Russia may be available for commercial use in the Philippines by April 2021, a Philippine official who recently met with Russian authorities said on Thursday.
In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of Philippine Council for Health Research, was part of a team of health and vaccine experts who met with representatives of Sputnik V's Russian manufacturer Gamaleya and other Russian investors in connection with its Phase 3 clinical trials in the Philippines.
“Kailangan approved muna ng Russian FDA (Food and Drug Administration) bago ma-approve ng FDA ng ibang bansa. Ang projection po nila (Russians) ng kanilang FDA approval ay January 2021,” Montoya said.
“Pag na-approve na po nila, pag-aaralan po ng FDA natin rito, kaya mga second quarter po, mga April 2021, ma-approve rito, magiging available na po rito,” he added.
Montoya said Russia's FDA approval is different from the Russian government's approval of Sputnik V since the latter is only a certification for emergency use given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ginagawa lang po iyong (certification for emergency use) pag may pandemya. Iyong use po noon, pang healthcare workers lang po at mga high risk (population),” Montoya said.
“Di pa po puwede gamitin ng maramihan,” he added.
Russians have expressed willingness to conduct Phase 3 of the clinical trials for Sputnik V in the Philippines at no cost, as long as they are provided with manpower and venue to conduct the trials, said Montoya.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's offer to provide the country with a vaccine against COVID-19. He even said he is willing to volunteer and have himself injected during the clinical trials.
Both Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, however, said that Sputnik V, which has not been cleared by the World Health Organization (WHO), needs further study.
WHO said its stamp of approval on a vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review.
"We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO pre-qualification of the vaccine," said the United Nations health agency's spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.
A total of 168 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, according to a WHO overview published earlier this week.
Of those, 28 have progressed to the various phases of being tested on humans, of which six are the furthest ahead, having reached Phase 3 of clinical trials.