Russia: 1 vs Rest of the World: 0, incase of COVID-19 Vaccine
11th August, 2020
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on state television in Russia that his country had become the first in the world to grant regulatory approval for a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing. The Russian approval of the vaccine precedes the completion of its Phase-III trials. Russia began the first clinical trials on 1st June 2020, months after teams in China, the US and Europe.
Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute develops the vaccine. Officials said that they are planning to start mass vaccination by October 2020. Unlike other groups, the Moscow Gamaleya did not release any data on safety or immunity from their studies. This prevents independent scientists from doing an assessment.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it had been in talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine. WHO urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. Currently, the Russian vaccine is not among the WHO’s list of six vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials, which involve more widespread testing in humans.
Russia’s rapid approval of the vaccine has raised concerns among experts who are worried that Russia may be putting national prestige ahead of sound science and safety. President Putin is keen to send out a clear message regarding Russian science’s prowess to the world. But merely being first is not enough.
Companies including AstraZeneca and Moderna are currently conducting final-stage trials of their vaccine, preliminary results for which are expected soon. Both Moderna and AstraZeneca had disclosed last month that their vaccine candidates produced a robust immune response among all participants of its Phase-2 trials. It is anticipated that by the end of the year 2020 or early 2021 scientists will be able to create at least one safe and effective vaccine.