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Philippine President Duterte may be injected with Russia's coronavirus vaccine by next May



Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks at Malacanang Palace in Manila on June 1, 2017.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte could be injected with Russia's coronavirus vaccine as early as May 2021, according to the government's official news contact, quoting the president's spokesman on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Duterte volunteered to participate in trials for the Russian vaccine, even as researchers and health experts questioned the safety and efficacy of the drug.

Russia announced on Tuesday that it had registered the world's first vaccine against the rapidly spreading coronavirus disease, or Covid-1

9, after less than two months of clinical trials. Data from these trials have not been published.

The Philippines is among a handful of countries that will participate in a more comprehensive "phase three" vaccine trial. The Philippine News Agency, the government's official newswire, reported that the country aims to launch these trials in October.

Phase three studies are considered by medical experts to be critical for any vaccine development and are necessary to eradicate potential side effects. Such studies, which typically randomize who receives the vaccine and who does not, can involve thousands of participants.

Last week, the Philippines took over Indonesia to report the highest number of cumulative coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed. As of Thursday afternoon, the country has reported 143,749 cases and 2,404 deaths, according to Hopkins data.

Last month, Duterte asked China to make its country a priority as it develops a vaccine, Reuters reported.

J. Stephen Morrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia" on Wednesday that it is no surprise that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Russia's vaccine to Duterte.

Morrison is senior vice president at CSIS and director of the think tank Global Health Policy Center.

"Putin also plays on the fear in low – income and low – income countries that the rich countries are unlocking all supplies of vaccines coming out of these other big outlets, and that they are going to be at the back of the queue with long, long and very damaging delays, "he said.

– CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.


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