Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Photo: Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia becomes first country to approve COVID vaccine, amid skepticism

Putin says vaccine is safe and was even administered to one of his daughters despite not completing trials on humans; WHO last week urged Moscow to go ‘through all the stages’ to develop safe vaccine

Reuters |
Published: 08.11.20 , 13:41
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.
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  • The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin
    Russian President Vladimir Putin
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.
    Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.
    “I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.
    He said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.
    Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.
    People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk an outdoor book market set up in Red Square with a Historical museum in the background in Moscow, Russia People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk an outdoor book market set up in Red Square with a Historical museum in the background in Moscow, Russia
    People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk an outdoor book market set up in Red Square with a Historical museum in the background in Moscow, Russia
    (Photo: AP)
    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. But recent surveys show 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 after the vaccine’s approval, a source told Reuters last month.
    More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.

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