Philippines' Duterte has 'huge trust' in Russia vaccine, volunteers for trial

Reuters Philippines Aug 11, 2020, 05.59 PM(IST)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia's efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge.

Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue.

Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production.

Also read: Russia has developed world's 'first' coronavirus vaccine: Putin

The Philippines has among Asia's highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday.

"I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said late on Monday.

The global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has raised concern that speed and national prestige could compromise safety.

To allay public fears, Duterte offered to be a guinea pig and said: "I can be the first they can experiment on."

In July, he made a plea to his Chinese counterpart to make the Philippines a priority if it develops a vaccine, amid concern in developing countries about availability.

He has restored a strict lockdown in and around the capital Manila as medical frontliners sought a "timeout" to control surging infections.

Speaking on Monday, when a record 6,958 new infections were reported, Duterte said he would deploy soldiers to enforce the lockdown if the situation becomes a "runaway contagion".

The lockdown has been among the world's longest and toughest and Duterte's opponents and rights groups have voiced concern about his security-centred approach and the conduct of police.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said a comprehensive health-centred strategy should be adopted urgently, otherwise "our health infrastructure could collapse".