RUSSIA has become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing which President Vladimir Putin says will soon be widely dispensed across the country.
Yet to be given a name, the vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, has been hailed by President Putin as safe, who said that it had even been administered on one of his daughters. He added that he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine, which President Putin said proves Russia’s technological prowess.
This development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, as the vaccine enters the final stage of clinical trials to test its safety and efficacy. The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out this vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product but it has stirred concerns that the country may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
President Putin said: “I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks.”
This drug’s approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial. Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.
Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop Covid-19 vaccines will not compromise safety. However, recent surveys show a growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine.
Russian health workers treating Covid-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon. More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the Covid-19 pandemic and at least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to the World Health Organisation.