PRRD’s dilemma: After Russian vaccine, will I get vaccines from other countries?

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President Rodrigo Duterte during his arrival after his working visit to Russia at NAIA on Wednesday. photo by Jansen Romero

President Rodrigo Duterte is now facing a “dilemma” regarding the coronavirus vaccines undergoing clinical trials, Malacañang said Tuesday after the president volunteered to be immunized with Russia’s newly registered drug against COVID-19.

On Monday, Duterte welcomed Russia’s offer to give Manila COVID-19 vaccines, saying he himself would volunteer to be injected by the drug in public to show that it is safe for public use.

To recall, the president had said in several occasions that the Philippines’ first COVID-19 vaccine might come from China.

“Ang dilemma ni Presidente noong sinabi niya na siya ‘yung mangunguna na kumuha ng vaccine, ang tanong niya: kung magpa-vaccine ako sa Russia, puwede pa ba ako magpa-vaccine sa China? Puwede pa ba ako magpa-vaccine sa England at sa Amerika?” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

[The President’s dilemma when he volunteered to be the first to try the vaccine is: If I get vaccinated under Russia’s program, can I still try the one from China? Can I still try the one from England and America?]

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, according to Roque, told the President he might not be able to do so.

Russia has announced plans of a COVID-19 immunization campaign before the year ends with a coronavirus vaccine. This move raised international concern on the methods used by the country to compete in the global race to develop an immunization drug.

To dispel concerns, Roque assured the public that the country’s Food and Drug Administration would still test vaccines that would be developed by other countries to ensure that it is safe for mass distribution.

“Dadaan din po ‘yan sa proseso natin ‘yan at naiintindihan naman po ng mga Russian yan,” Roque said.

[That will still undergo the process and the Russians understand that.]

Coronavirus vaccines from China, the United States, and the United Kingdom are at the most advanced stage of development and had entered Phase 3 trials or large-scale testing on humans — the last step before regulatory approval.

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