Sputnik V available in PH by November

'Sputnik V,’ the coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia may be available to the Philippines by early November or early December, according to one of its developers.

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. (Photo by Handout / Russian Direct Investment Fund / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“We believe if we work very closely with regulators, [and[ health minister, we can actually make the vaccine available to the Philippines es early as Novemrebr or early December,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which co-developed Sputnik V with the Gamaley National Center, told ANC in an interview Friday.

Dmitriev however, said that a successful clinical trial and “many steps and partnership approach” need to happen first before the target date can be realized.

Currently, Dmitriev said they are already in discussion with different Filipino companies and raised the possibility of producing the vaccines in the Philippines as well.

As for the clinical trials, the RDIF CEO said they are targeting 500 to 1,000 Filipinos to participate in the trials which may begin this month or early September.

“We have a very special relationship with the Philippines, that is why we want you to have a clinical trial, so that your scientists, regulators, can see how it works,” he said.

Dmitriev said Russia has also submitted clinical data on Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials of the vaccines to the Philippines.

Dmitriev, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to President Duterte for his support to the Russian-developed vaccine.

He also applauded Duterte for his “courage” in wanting to do “something to contribute to the fight against COVID,” by volunteering himself as the first person to be tested for the vaccine.

When asked if Duterte is a perfect candidate for the trial, Dmitriev said it is up to local regulators and health officials to identify their sample for the test.

‘Sputnik V is safe’

Amid skepticism about Sputnik V, Dmitriev assured that the vaccine is safe.

Dmitriev said the vaccine is based on a proven platform called adenovirus human vector which has been “studied in Russia for the last six years and has been tested on thousands of people.”

“We have a safe and proven platform that we are using and that is why we are launching the vaccination already in Russia, and in mass in October because it’s a safe platform,” he added.

“ we take a very light virus that has been living with humans for hundreds and thousands of years,” he explained.

According to Dmitriev, the adenovirus human vector platform is also being used by other companies like Astrazeneca and University of Oxford, which is now on its third phase of trials.

But Dmitriev noted that only Russia is using Type 5 and Type 26 vectors.

“The reason why we have two vectors is because we know that if we use two of them, it’s much better and much more long-lasting than just using one,” he said.

Dmitriev also said criticisms against Russia’s speedy efforts in developing a vaccine are very “shortsighted.”

“We don’t want to be first. When our scientists were asked what’s the reason for them moving so quickly, they said very clearly that they just want to protect people around them,” he said.

Dmitriev likewise expressed confidence that the Russian vaccine will get a stamp of approval and support from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The RDIF CEO also called for optimism, and asked people to see the development as a “positive, and happy moment for humanity.”

“We move forward with a big smile on our faces, with big confidence and we believe the people who are trying to negative would be proven wrong very shortly,” he said.