Early this March, the Philippines commenced its vaccination program to immunize Filipinos against the ravages of COVID-19. Thus far it has been both slow going and limited in scope, with vaccination priority being for the medical front-liners. In addition, what vaccines are being used right now are mere donations: Sinovac’s CoronaVac from China and AstraZeneca’s vaccine, by way of the COVAX facility. The national government has made deals for more doses of the vaccines from their respective manufacturers, but it is still looking to fill a massive order for mass population immunization. Now they are turning back to one of the earliest nations to offer their own COVID vaccines: Russia.
CNN Philippines reports that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is moving to confer with Russian research institute Gamaleya about buying no less than 2 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, Gam-COVID-Vac or better known as Sputnik V. In a statement this Thursday, March 18, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. notes that the potential purchase of Sputnik V could arrive in the country next month, where they could be put to use in the vaccination program immediately now that this vaccine is nearing clearance for Emergency Use Authorization.
“We are expecting that it will receive an EUA perhaps within the next few days,” says Galvez. “So with that, we can already start the negotiations for more or less 5-10 million. Two million initially by April.” Gamaleya had first applied for Emergency Use in the Philippines back in January, which was tabled by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for having incomplete requirements. The FDA was supposed to send a delegation to Russia this week to check on Gamaleya and assess its willingness to comply with the EUA requirements, only to cancel when said requirements were finally delivered.
One key requirement required by the FDA for Emergency Use of Sputnik V was results of a Phase 3 clinical trial. Russia infamously allowed immediate use of the vaccine in their country without this. When finally conducted, it was learned that the efficacy rate of Gam-COVID-Vac was 91.6% in preventing symptoms of COVID-19, and 100% effective in preventing moderate or serious cases of the disease. At present, only Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac have EUAs for their respective vaccines against COVID.
Image from The Straits Times