Philippine President volunteers to test Russian vaccine

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MANILA | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to serve as a guinea pig and be inoculated with a new Russian vaccine against the coronavirus, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

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This announcement comes the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country’s development of the “first” vaccine against COVID-19 providing “lasting immunity”.

However, many Western scientists have voiced skepticism about how quickly this vaccine would have been developed.

The World Health Organization reacted cautiously, recalling that the “prequalification” and approval of a vaccine went through “rigorous” procedures.

These warnings did not, however, prevent Manila from volunteering to participate in clinical trials proposed by Russia.

The Philippine health authorities have indicated that they have met with the Russian Gamaleya center which developed it.

President Putin said that one of his daughters was inoculated with the vaccine called “Sputnik V” (V for vaccine, editor’s note), in reference to the Russian politico-scientific victory of putting the satellite into orbit of the same name in the middle of the Cold War.

The Philippine president has expressed his “great confidence” in Russia’s efforts to end the pandemic.

“I believe that the vaccine you produced is really good for humanity,” Mr. Duterte said, while praising Mr. Putin.

“I will be the first to be tested,” he said Monday.

Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said on Wednesday that the president (known for his controversial outings) was not joking.

” He is old. He can sacrifice his life for the Filipino people, ”Roque said.

A technical team from the Philippine government met with officials from the Nikolai Gamaleia Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology to discuss the scope and protocols of clinical trials to be conducted in the Philippines, said Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire .

This country of approximately 107 million inhabitants continues to fight against the coronavirus epidemic which has already infected more than 143,000 people and killed more than 2,400.

The Philippines is the second worst affected country in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

Last week, more than 27 million people were ordered to remain confined to their homes, including in Manila and areas near the capital.

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