PHILIPPINE authorities have approved Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the fourth to be allowed for emergency use in the country.
The potential benefits of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow “outweigh” its potential risks as seen in a late-stage trial, making it qualified for urgent use in the country, Food and Drug Administration Director General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo said at a virtual press briefing on Friday.
“The known and potential benefits of the Gamaleya Sputnik V vaccine, when used to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), outweigh the known and potential risks of said vaccine as of date,” Mr. Domingo said.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), in a statement on Friday, said the “Philippines was among the first to show interest in the Sputnik vaccine after it was registered in Russia.”
The two-shot vaccine, which has a 91.6% efficacy, provides full protection against severe coronavirus cases as confirmed by a medical journal published by a Netherland-based publication, RDIF said.
Sputnik V, which can be stored in a conventional refrigerator, costs less than $10 per shot, it said.
“Diversification of the national vaccine portfolio through registration of Sputnik V provides people of the Philippines with access to one of the best vaccines, which is already saving lives around the world.”
With its emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country, the Russian shot might arrive in Manila as soon as April, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, who heads the country’s COVID-19 vaccine program, told a virtual press briefing on Friday.
Mr. Galvez earlier said the Philippines is eyeing to purchase five to ten million doses of Sputnik V.
Also on Friday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte approved the recommendation of the Health department to use all on-hand vaccines obtained from a global initiative for equal access as first doses for medical workers.
The available vaccines developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca, Plc will be distributed among healthcare workers in areas facing a renewed surge in coronavirus infections, Presidential Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said, quoting Executive Secretary Salvadaor C. Medialdea.
The Palace has yet to release a copy of the memorandum.
“Nakikita namin na may valid reason po yun na magconcentrate muna tayo sa mga (We recognize that there is a valid reason for concentrating the vaccination for now in the) affected areas,” Mr. Galvez said.
The Health department made the recommendation to use all available AstraZeneca doses as a first shot for medical frontliners to ensure that no supply would go to waste.
The Philippines on March 4 took delivery of about 487,200 AstraZeneca doses. An additional 48,300 AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the country three days later. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza