Philippines approves use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as COVID-19 cases spike

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The Philippines has approved Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday, as the Southeast Asian country battles a renewed surge in infections.

The vaccine, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, is the fourth to get emergency use authorization in the Philippines.

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“The known and potential benefits of the Gamaleya Sputnik V vaccine...outweigh the known and potential risks of said vaccine,” FDA chief Rolando Enrique Domingo told a news conference.

Interim data showed the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine had an efficacy of 91.6 percent in age groups 18 and older, Domingo said.

In February, a medical panel in Vietnam recommended the approval of the Sputnik V vaccine.

US vaccine makers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have made inquiries about the documentary requirements for emergency use approval but have yet to file applications, Domingo said.

The Philippines, which has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, is facing a renewed wave of infections, with nearly 20,000 new cases reported in the past four days.

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The government plans to roll out 140.5 million vaccine by December, to inoculate 70 million adults and achieve herd immunity for a safer reopening of the country’s pandemic-battered economy, which contracted by a record 9.5 percent in 2020.

It launched an inoculation program on March 1 and has received delivery of 1.125 million doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

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