MANILA, Nov 17 (Mabuhay) — Russia can begin the production of COVID-19 vaccines intended for the Philippines as early as January next year if the country is ready to accept them, Manila’s Ambassador to Moscow Carlos Sorreta said Monday.
Sorreta made the statement days after the developers of Russia’s vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, reported that it was 92% effective at preventing people from catching the virus based on interim results of a large trial.
“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 it is ordered, as early as January if we are ready to accept it,” Sorreta said at a Palace news conference.
The Philippines plans to purchase an initial 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines next year. Priority will be given to the poor, security forces, government frontline workers and health care workers.
“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,” Sorreta said.
“Of course, we need to be ready with some of the infrastructure para ho sa storage at the required temperatures. There’s a version of the vaccine that will not require extreme temperatures but it might be a little more expensive,” he added.
In August, the Philippines said it was ready to work with Russia on clinical trials, vaccine supply and production, and “other areas deemed practicable” by relevant Philippine and Russian agencies to address the COVID-19 crisis.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he preferred vaccines being developed by Russia and China because other countries allegedly asked for advance payment. (MNS)