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The maker of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, Russian firm Gamaleya Research Institute, will apply for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its vaccine, an official said on Friday.

Science and Technology Asst. Secretary Leah Buendia said the vaccine manufacturer had also informed Philippine officials that it would not push through with its application to conduct clinical trials in the country.

“Recently po, itong linggo lang na ito they formally informed, ang DOST (Department of Science and Technology) at saka po ang technical group on evaluation na hindi na wini-withdraw na po nila iyong kanilang application for clinical trial,” Buendia said in a Laging Handa briefing.

“Rather they will apply for EUA na lang po,” she added.

Once authorized, an EUA would allow vaccines to be approved for use in the Philippines within 21 days instead of the six-month frame without the authorization.

The Sputnik V vaccine was the first to be offered to the Philippines.

In August 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte said the country had accepted Russia’s offer of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Tingin ko kay President [Vladimir] Putin, tulong niya ito na libre. Tinatanggap natin. Kung ilan ang supply, maguusap pa kami,” Duterte said.

Duterte even said he was willing to be the first to be injected with the Russian vaccine to assure the public of its safety.

“Pagdating ng bakuna, in public, para walang satsat diyan, magpa-injection ako. Ako ‘yung unang pag-experimentuhan,” he said.

“Kaya ako, para ipakita ko sa kanila na nagtiwala ako at hindi sila nagkamali mag-offer… ako ang unang magpabakuna. Kung puwede sa akin, puwede sa lahat,” he added.

Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev on Aug. 7 declared that Russia was “ready to supply vaccines to the Philippines” and was willing to invest in local production of the vaccines.

Gamaleya’s vaccines cost P1,220 for two doses.

To date, only Pfizer-BioNTech and Astrazeneca have applied for EUAs for their respective Covid-19 vaccines.

‘Trust FDA’s vaccine approval process’

In the Laging Handa briefing, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña urged the public to trust the country’s vaccine regulators.

“Hindi naman po siguro bibigyan ng go signal ng FDA kung mayroong ebidensiya na hindi karapat-dapat [ang vaccine],” he said.

“So magtiwala po tayo sa ating FDA na siyang nakakaalam kung papaano, ‘ika nga, ang basehan para bigyan ang bidder, emergency use authority or ng talagang permiso to market.”

De la Peña made the statement after China’s Sinopharm vaccine was labelled the “most unsafe in the world.”

Sinopharm was the vaccine injected into Presidential Security Group personnel in the illegal vaccination scheme it had mounted.

A Pulse Asia survey recently found that 47 percent of Filipinos were “not inclined” to receive Covid-19 vaccines over safety concerns.

The Philippines has recorded 483,852 Covid-19 cases as of Jan. 8. John Ezekiel J. Hirro