Pres. Duterte says Russia planning to set up pharma plant in PHL to make COVID-19 vaccines here

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte discusses matters with outgoing Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Philippines Igor Khovaev who paid a farewell call on the President at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on October 14, 2020. ROBINSON NIÑAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte said that Russia plans to put up a pharmaceutical facility in the Philippines that would include the manufacture of their COVID-19 vaccines that would enable the country to have easier access to these vaccines.

The Philippine leader announced this after his meeting with outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev on Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Malacanang.

President Duterte conferred the order of Sikatuna to the Russian ambassador who paid a farewell call in Malacanang.

-Russia to help PHL in COVID-19 fight-

“I just had a talk with the Ambassador of Russia, the outgoing, and we had a serious one-on-one talk and they said that Russia is coming in; mayroon lang sigurong tinatapos and they would want to establish here,” President Duterte said.

Gagawa sila ng planta — pharmaceutical, pharmaceutical lang naman, and ang vaccine papasok rin sila.

Duterte said that the the outgoing Russian ambassador told him about Russia’s intention to invest in the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte poses for posterity with outgoing Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Philippines Igor Khovaev who paid a farewell call on the President at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on October 14, 2020. Joining them are Russian Federation to the Philippines Military Attaché Nikitin Dmitry, Second Secretary Karenin Denis, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ma. Amelita Aquino, and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go. RICHARD MADELO/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Russia and the Philippines have agreed for the conduct of phase three clinical trial for Russia’s Sputnik V, which was expected to take place simultaneously in the Philippines and Russia from October 2020 to March 2021.

The President has expressed his trust on the vaccines being developed by China and Russia saying the country will likely source the vaccine against COVID-19 from these countries.

-Beneficial for PHL-

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that Russia’s intention to set up a pharmaceutical plant in the Philippines is good for the country.

He said that this means Filipinos can readily have access to these very important vaccines since these could be manufactured in the country. This is particularly important as rich nations are now racing to get the bulk of vaccines being developed against COVID for their citizens.

The United States and the European Union, for instance, have already been reserving millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

This is why it would be good if Russia puts up its pharmaceutical plant that would manufacture their vaccines here, Roque said.

“That’s a very good use for us kasi nga ang problema ngayon, number one, magkaroon man ng bakuna, ilan ang mabibili natin given na iyong mga mayayamang bansa nag-invest na para maging una doon sa bakuna na madi-develop ng mga kumpanya. Ang mga kumpanya na hindi tumanggap ng ganiyang arrangements ay ang Russia at ang China kasi hindi naman sila capitalist economies ‘no. So inaasahan natin na kung dito po sila magma-manufacture, hinding-hindi tayo mauubusan ng bakuna na dito sa Pilipinas gagawin,” Roque explained in a press briefing Thursday.

This development came about as Russia announced the registration of its second coronavirus vaccine, EpiVacCorona, developed by Siberian biotech company Novosibirsk’s Vektor.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin made the announcement on Wednesday.

“The Novosibirsk Vektor centre today registered the second Russian vaccine against coronavirus — EpiVacCorona,” Putin said during a video conference with cabinet members.

Putin’s announcement came after he said in August that the country had registered its first coronavirus vaccine called Sputnik V, which is yet to complete its final stage of testing.

The new vaccine triggers an immune response using synthetic virus proteins, while Sputnik V uses adapted adenovirus strains, a virus that causes the common cold.

Deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova said during the conference with Putin that the vaccine showed a “fairly high level of safety”.

It will now move onto post-registration trials involving some 40,000 volunteers, she added.

(with a report from Agence France Presse)