‘The one I’ll trust my life to’: Philippines’ FM praises Russian Sputnik V vaccine, pledges to speed up approval process

The Philippines’ foreign minister has voiced his full support for the Sputnik V vaccine, stating he’s been “turning every stone” to get it approved. So far, the drug has been caught in a regulatory limbo.

The country’s top diplomat, Teddy Locsin, voiced his confidence in the Russian-made vaccine on Thursday, retweeting a message from the Sputnik V official feed about an article on the Phase III trials published in the Lancet journal earlier this month.

I’m turning every stone to get Sputnik V in. It is the one I will trust my life to. The Lancet review is definitive.

Locsin’s support comes as the Russian-made drug has been caught in a bureaucratic limbo. While Russian manufacturers expressed their readiness to provide the country with the drug late in 2020, it still has not been authorized for emergency use.

The vaccine currently lacks a handful of documents required by the regulators, including a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification. In order to obtain this, an expert group must travel to Russia to make sure the vials to be supplied are identical to those used in trials and elsewhere. Russian diplomats have already vowed to provide all the support necessary to speed up the process.

“In this case, I suppose, we will give full visa assistance. We will issue visas as soon as possible,” the first secretary of the Russian Embassy in the Philippines, Vladislav Mongush, has said.

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In fact, the Philippines has so far failed to acquire any vaccines at all, despite earlier promises by the authorities to begin a mass-vaccination campaign in “mid-February.” The deadline is apparently set to be missed, as the country’s negotiations with the World Health Organization and the US-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer regarding the vaccine have still not been finalized.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Philippines has registered more than 550,000 cases of coronavirus, including over 11,500 deaths.

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