Philippines President takes Russia Covid-19 vaccine offer
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted Russia’s offer of its coronavirus vaccine, volunteering to take the first shot as a gesture of trust and gratitude.
“When the vaccine arrives, I will have myself injected in public. Experiment on me first, that’s fine with me,” he said in a briefing Monday night. Duterte — who has called President Vladimir Putin as his “idol” and who’s seeking to boost ties with Russia — added that Manila can assist Moscow in clinical trials and local production.
Russia is poised to allow a vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute for civilian use even before clinical trials are completed, triggering safety warnings from pharmaceutical companies. Russia’s elite has been given the experimental vaccine as early as April.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said members of “risk groups,” such as medical workers, may be offered the vaccine this month. He didn’t clarify whether they would be part of the Phase 3 study that is said to be completed after the vaccine receives “conditional approval.”
The Philippines has 136,638 confirmed coronavirus cases, the highest in Southeast Asia. On Monday, it reported new infections of 6,958, the largest daily increase which the Department of Health attributed to an error in its database that failed to count earlier test results.
Duterte last month said he also asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help the Philippines get priority access to a Covid-19 vaccine.