Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine

MANILA (AFP) – The Philippines will begin large-scale human testing of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in October, but President Rodrigo Duterte will not receive the inoculation until regulators guarantee its safety, his spokesman said yesterday.

Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine, despite growing scepticism about its effectiveness.

But his spokesman Harry Roque said the president was scheduled to receive the vaccine no earlier than May 1 – weeks after Phase 3 clinical trial due to end in March.

The country’s Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine – developed by the Gamaleya research institute and the Russian Defence Ministry – in April.

“May 1 is when the PSG (presidential security group) may allow him, once all requisite tests have been finished,” Roque told reporters.

Moscow said it has developed the world’s first vaccine and is in the final stage of tests involving 2,000 people. Roque said Philippine experts will review next month the results of Russia’s Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials before the Southeast Asian country starts its Phase 3 testing.