Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be a guinea pig for a controversial Russian coronavirus vaccine, his spokesperson said on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian nation emerged as a frontrunner for clinical trials in overseas. Moscow says it has developed the world’s first “sustainable immunity” vaccine against the virus, and it is in the final stage of testing involving 2,000 people.
Western scientists, however, have previously raised concerns about the pace of production of Russian vaccines, indicating that researchers could cut corners. But despite the skepticism, Manila has approved Russia’s offer to engage in clinical trials, vaccine supply and drug development, and the Philippine health authorities have said they meet with the Russian drug developer Gamaleya.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the drug was safe and one of his own daughters, dubbed “Sputnik V” after the pioneering Soviet satellite of the 1950s, received the inoculation. Duterte has also expressed “strong trust” in the efforts being made by Russia to avoid the contagion.