1,000 Filipinos to join Russia vaccine clinical trial

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — Around 1,000 healthy Filipinos will receive the first doses of Russia's coronavirus vaccine by October after the Philippines sealed the deal with the manufacturers of "Sputnik V."

Dr. Jaime Montoya, the executive director of Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), on Wednesday shared details about their first meeting with the manufacturers and scientists who developed the Russian vaccine.

In what the official described as a "productive" meeting, Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute presented their findings from the Phase 1 and 2 of the clinical trial. During the testing period, 76 people were inoculated and they did not react with any alarming side effect, Montoya relayed.

"They have shown that it was effective. It produced sufficient antibodies in the people that were given the vaccine. It was safe, only minor adverse effects such as fever for a few days after the injection," he told CNN Philippines.

Russia approved and registered a vaccine for COVID-19 on Tuesday, allowing limited use.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the Philippines will join the Phase 3 of the medical research, which will be fully funded by Russia. This critical stage is where thousands of patients have to be vaccinated to test its safety and efficacy. It is also the final stage before approval for mass rollout in Russia. This part of the research will be simultaneously conducted with Russia from October 2020 to March 2021.

Only healthy Filipinos may volunteer to join the clinical trials to determine if they can build the immunity for the coronavirus once they have received the vaccine. Around 1,000 people will be randomly selected from areas with high COVID-19 transmission, Montoya added.

The DOST official earlier said it's better for the Philippines to participate in the Phase 3 because we can find out how Filipinos will respond to the drug.

Once all data have been collated from the three phases of the clinical trial, Russia's findings will be submitted to the Philippines' Food and Drug Administration for review and approval before it can be used by Filipinos. Once proven to be safe and effective, the government targets the product registration of "Sputnik V" by April 2021.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who volunteered to be the first person to be injected with Russia's vaccine, may be vaccinated by May 1, 2021.