Experts advise caution as Russia announces COVID-19 vaccine for public use

by Laura Mize · Aug 11th, 2020 11:04 am

Last Updated Aug 12th, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his nation has developed and registered the first effective vaccine for protection against COVID-19.

Putin insists the vaccine has gone through full testing and says it provides "sustained immunity" against the novel coronavirus.

"I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests," Putin said in a video call with Russian ministers. "The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency."

He noted that one of his grown daughters has received the vaccine and experienced a mild, short-lived increase in body temperature. She now "has high number of antibodies," he said.

Experts around the world warned the vaccine has not yet undergone phase three trials, which are considered requisite for verifying the safety and efficacy of any vaccine. They last for months and involve tens of thousands of people. Russia's vaccine has been tested in only 76 people, starting on June 17, according to the Associated Press.

Russian stakeholders already have described plans to ramp up production of the vaccine and begin offering it to tens of thousands of volunteers. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Direct Advancement Fund, which paid for the vaccine's development, has said advanced trials of the vaccine will begin Wednesday. People in the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and possibly other countries will participate in the advanced trials.

A search of Russian Health Ministry Records turned up no documents approving the start of advanced trials, according to the Associated Press.

An infectious disease expert from the United Kingdom's University of Nottingham said the global health community has not seen any documentation proving the Russian vaccine's legitimacy.

"It is not possible to know if the Russian vaccine has been shown to be effective without submission of scientific papers for analysis and then there may be problems on data quality," Keith Neal, a professor emeritus epidemiology of infectious diseases at the university, said in a statement.


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