Opinion

Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. (AFP)
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Updated 13 August 2020

Duterte to skip Philippine trial of Russia virus vaccine

  • Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine
  • The Philippines has logged the highest number of confirmed infections in Southeast Asia

MANILA: The Philippines will begin large-scale human testing of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in October, but President Rodrigo Duterte will not receive the inoculation until regulators guarantee its safety, his spokesman said Thursday.
Duterte had offered himself up as a guinea pig for the very first jab, expressing “huge trust” in the vaccine, despite growing skepticism about its effectiveness.
But his spokesman Harry Roque said the president was scheduled to receive the vaccine no earlier than May 1 — weeks after the Russian-funded Phase 3 clinical trial in the archipelago is due to end in March.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the vaccine — developed by the Gamaleya research institute and the Russian defense ministry — in April.
“May 1 is when the PSG (presidential security group) may allow him, once all requisite tests have been finished,” Roque told reporters.

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Moscow says it has developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus and is in the final stage of tests involving 2,000 people.
Roque said Philippine experts will review next month the results of Russia’s Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials before the Southeast Asian country starts its Phase 3 testing.
“We will do it simultaneously with Russia,” Roque said.
Philippine officials from the science and technology department met with Gamaleya on Wednesday to discuss the protocols for the trial of the vaccine, which is dubbed “Sputnik V” after the pioneering Soviet satellite of the 1950s.
The Philippines, which is struggling to contain the virus, has accepted Russia’s offer to participate in production of the vaccine.
Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, an infectious disease professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, said the government’s timeline to have a vaccine available by May was “very optimistic.”
The country is also set to start on August 17 clinical trials for the Japanese antiviral drug Avigan to treat coronavirus patients.
The Philippines has logged the highest number of confirmed infections in Southeast Asia with more than 147,500 cases and over 2,400 deaths.


Nepalese team claim first winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 57 min 43 sec ago

Nepalese team claim first winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

ISLAMABAD: A team of Nepalese climbers on Saturday made history after becoming the first to summit Pakistan’s K2 in winter, according to a trekking company leading one of the expeditions.
Dozens of mountaineers have been competing over the past few weeks to summit the world’s second-highest mountain, the last peak above 8,000 meters to be topped in wintertime.
“WE DID IT” tweeted Seven Summit Treks.
“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ been summited in most dangerous season: winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt K2 this afternoon at 17:00 local time.”
Since the maiden attempt in 1987-1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the storied 8,611-meter (28,250-feet) mountain in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border.
None had got higher than 7,650 meters until Saturday when the good conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.
This winter an unprecedented four teams totaling around 60 climbers converged on the mountain, more than all the previous expeditions put together.
The 10 Nepalese climbers had earlier been spread across the different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal’s name.
Known as the “savage mountain,” winds on the peak can blow at more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).