In a surprising and confusing move, Russia claimed that the nation has officially approved the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine after the Russian Health Ministry issued a so-called “pre-approval” for the vaccine candidate, which has been tested on just 76 people. Russia on Tuesday became the first country to officially register a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use despite international skepticism. On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia was the first country in the world to approve the COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing. Moscow hailed the move as proof of its scientific prowess. Russian health authorities have approved what Putin calls the “world’s first coronavirus vaccine,” adding that one of his daughters had already taken it, as he said hours earlier.
The vaccine is named after the first orbital satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, which triggered a global space race. Putin said one of his daughters had already received the Sputnik V vaccine, referring to the satellite Russia launched into space in 1958 to beat the US.
Russia has called the Sputnik V vaccine and explicitly compared it to an iconic demonstration of strength. Although the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, has not yet undergone phase 3 testing, Putin said it works “fairly effectively,” has developed stable immunity, and has undergone all the necessary tests.
While Putin says the vaccines, named Sputnik-V after the world’s first satellite, have passed all the necessary tests, many experts say the drug must be subjected to rigorous testing to prove its safety and efficacy in the long-term treatment. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia agreed: “We know that it is working effectively and has established a stable immunity.
Despite the lack of public information, Vladimir Putin said that the country’s health authority is ready to approve the vaccine for widespread use. While Russia had not shared all the data on whether its vaccine was safe and effective, it had received requests for access to Sputnik-V from more than 20 countries, Reuters reported.
Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and that mass vaccination may begin as early as October. Russia currently has two COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the race: one developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and another by Russia’s Ministry of Health. The vaccine, developed in collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Public Health, is called “Sputnik V” because it resembles the name of the first vaccine in the Soviet Union. Both vaccines have been tested on only a small number of people, and both have yet to be developed for use in large-scale mass vaccination campaigns.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready for a vaccine against coronavirus, while Dr. Randeep Guleria, director of AIIMS, said the safety of the vaccine was the most important. “We are in talks with the Russian authorities to review all the vaccines mentioned,” he said Tuesday. President Putin told a news conference in Moscow on Monday that “the vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute offers sustained immunity to coronavirus” and called it a “world first.” Russia expert Florian Krammer tweeted that he would “certainly not comment on any vaccine that has not been tested in phase 3,” adding: “Russia is putting health workers and others at risk.
Russian officials condemned Western attempts to undermine Moscow’s research, saying the vaccine offered safe and stable immunity and dubbed it “Sputnik V,” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first to be launched into space.
The rush to approve the vaccine has raised concerns among scientists in Russia and abroad, who say that only carefully designed human studies, including thousands of people, can conclusively show that a vaccine is safe and effective enough for public use.
Russian vaccine claims could encourage the Trump administration to launch a US program to test multiple vaccines, such as the controversial “warped” hepatitis B and C. However, the decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the COVID-19 vaccine has raised concerns among some scientists, as vaccines are difficult to trust without full trial data.
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