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Coronavirus

Can Duterte's vaccine diplomacy kickstart local pharma industry?

Southeast Asian countries are looking abroad for supplies and technical know-how

President Rodrigo Duterte is betting on personal ties with his Russian and Chinese counterparts to secure vaccine supplies for the Philippines. (Nikkei Montage/Source photos by AP and AFP/Jiji) 

MANILA -- When Russian and Filipino scientists met virtually on Aug. 12 to hammer out details for clinical trials of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, they already had one volunteer: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Days before, the 75-year-old leader publicly promoted the Russian vaccine, saying he had a "huge trust" in it, and offered to be a guinea pig himself when clinical trials begin. He has been similarly enthusiastic about Beijing's vaccine efforts

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