House panel to discuss developments on Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

The House Committee on People Participation is expected to hold a virtual meeting Monday on the recent developments on Russia’s clinical studies on Sputnik V.

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)

San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes, chairperson of the panel, said the Russian embassy officials and representatives of the Departments of Health, and Science and Technology are expected to apprise her committee of the latest development on the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Since the Philippines is one of countries that is currently studying the vaccine, we want to be given updates on its trials to give our people information and to facilitate cooperation between the two countries to ensure its availability in the country if the tests go well at the earliest possible time,” Robes said in a statement.

She described the Oct. 12 panel meeting as "a follow through” of the first meeting conducted last month with the Russian Embassy on the development of Russian vaccine for COVID-19.

Invited to the virtual meeting are the officials of the Departments of Health and Science and Technology, according to the House leader.

She said the resource persons are expected to be asked on the status of the vaccine now being studied for Phase 3 of the clinical trials.

Robes expressed commitment to continuously conduct meetings and dialogues with the different stakeholders in the vaccine development for coronavirus disease.

“We want to ensure that as long as their safety and efficacy are proven and established, the Filipino people will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine so that we can all start to recover and move forward,” she said.

It was Robes who had pushed for the approval of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

She noted that currently, the drug is still in the “investigational phase” in the country and is administered only to those with severe cases of COVID-19.

During its meeting with the Russian embassy officials on Sept. 3, the Robes panel vowed to facilitate cooperation in the conduct of clinical studies of vaccines for COVID-19 to ensure their availability in the country at the earliest possible time.

Russian embassy officials relayed to the Robes panel that a Non-Disclosure Agreement had already been signed between Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology, manufacturer of Sputnik V, and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to allow the latter to study the vaccine for the third phase of clinical trials.

Tatiana Shlychkova, Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission of the Russian Embassy, had assured lawmakers that their vaccine has been proven to be safe and efficient in providing immunity to the COVID virus using human adenovirus vectors, which were highly effective in the tests for the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS coronavirus.

Shlychkova had noted that as clinical trials are expected to last for three months, the vaccine may be made available as early as January next year for the Philippines. “The speed to have the vaccine will really depend on the speed on how Philippine officials will conduct the tests on the vaccine,” she said.

During the panel meeting last month, Vladisav Mongush, Commercial Advisor of the Russian Embassy, also expressed openness of the Russian government to allow the setting up of a local manufacturing facility in the country for the Sputnik V to assist the Philippines make its own vaccine, and to complement existing efforts for vaccine production for other illnesses.