DOST: Russian researchers drop bid to hold vax trial; emergency use application seen this week

January 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute is expected to apply for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines this week, the Department of Science and Technology said Friday.

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said the Moscow-based developer is expected to submit its application for EUA on Friday or Saturday. Gamaleya earlier announced that its vaccine known as Sputnik V had an efficacy of 91.4%.

Guevara also announced that Gamaleya had withdrawn its bid to conduct massive clinical trial for its vaccine in the country.

“Their reason is very simple: they will apply for emergency use authorization, that’s why they will no longer hold clinical trial here,” she said.

Should Gamaleya file its application, it will be the third vaccine developer seeking emergency authorization from the country’s Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer and AstraZeneca earlier applied for emergency use of their COVID-19 jabs.

Securing FDA’s approval will not automatically mean that doses of the sought-after vaccines will be immediately available in the Philippines as the country still needs to secure deals with the developers.

Russia is using Sputnik V in its mass inoculation campaign. Belarus and Argentina also authorized the vaccine for emergency use.

Gamaleya’s vaccine was produced from a combination of two adenoviruses called Ad5 and Ad26. The institute joined forces with AstraZeneca to combine their experimental products to see if Russia’s vaccine can boost the efficacy of the British-Swedish drugmaker’s shot.

In August last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the country’s health regulator had approved the vaccine before Phase 3 trials had even begun. Concerns were raised with the development, with experts worrying the vaccine was rushed to approval.

The Philippines, which has the second-worst coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia following Indonesia, is aiming to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos in 2021 alone. The target, however, depends on the global supply where 80% had already been secured by other nations. 

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