The Philippine government is expecting 500,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said on Sunday.
Go, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said they were expecting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) jabs from Russia to arrive either this month or next month.
According to Go, Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin have both stressed the importance of ramping up vaccine production, and the need to mobilize Russian vaccines to as many countries as possible during a phone call on April 13.
Initially, the senator said the Russian government only committed 100,000 doses, but agreed to provide 500,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccines.
“This is one of the things the government is doing, asking other countries. This is the time we cooperate and talk with other countries because they have supplies of the vaccine. They have manufacturing companies,” Go said in an interview.
“The government requested that they provide at least 500,000. I think they will send an initial 20,000 for the pilot run because they need to test the temperature for storage,” he added.
“This will greatly help, in addition to our supplies and sustain the government’s vaccination drive,” he stressed.
The lawmaker, likewise, said President Duterte has instructed Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez to expedite government processes for pharmaceutical companies seeking to locally manufacture COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
“He (the President) gave instructions to make it easy for them, to help our own manufacturing companies who want to help in manufacturing vaccines,” Go said.
In the long-term, Go said the establishment of a virology institute in the Philippines will enable the country to develop its own vaccines and other related drugs against diseases.
“Even President Duterte is in favor of a vaccine institute. It should be our long-term goal,” he said.
Go said the establishment of the country’s own vaccine institute will also avoid situations wherein poorer nations are left with fewer supplies of vaccines compared to richer and more developed countries that have early on invested in health sciences and medical research.
“The World Health Organization has just said there is really an inequitable distribution of the vaccines. That’s why our government has allocated P50-million in the GAA (General Appropriations Act) for the detailed engineering design for the institute. It is planned to be built in Tarlac,” he further said.