Russia has announced that it was going to start mass vaccination of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine this month before the completion of clinical testing. This is just as it waved off concerns by the international community and some scientists about the safety of the vaccine.
These views were made known by the Russian Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, during a press briefing.
The Health Minister in his statement said, ‘’Western colleagues, who can sense the competitive advantage of the Russian drug, are trying to express some opinions that are completely unjustified in our view. This vaccine is a platform that is already well-known and studied,” he said, adding that other countries have developed antidotes under accelerated testing programs.’’
Murashko also said that the authorities plan to start inoculating medical workers and other risk groups within 2 weeks on a voluntary basis while pointing out that the vaccine will be made available to the general public from October.
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Nairametrics had reported yesterday that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in a televised meeting, announced that Russia has registered the first COVID-19 vaccine in what they see as a propaganda coup amid the global race for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
This announcement has raised a lot of international concerns with the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, saying on Wednesday, that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been sufficiently tested, adding that the aim was to have a safe product rather than just being first to start vaccinating people.
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He said in a radio chat that it’s not about being first but rather about having an effective, tested and safe vaccine.
Experts have expressed their concerns over Russia’s decision to grant approval before the final trials of the vaccine have been completed.
He said that as much as he will be pleased to have a good vaccine for the virus, he pointed out that the Russians are not disclosing much about this vaccine.
This vaccine which is developed by Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Defence Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.
However, a World Health Organization (WHO) database still lists the vaccine as still only in Phase 1 trial, which is the earliest stage.
The RDIF said that it can produce over 500 million doses of the new vaccine in a year in 5 countries, just as it disclosed that a minimum of 20 countries are currently interested in having access to these vaccines.
The WHO had earlier revealed that it is currently discussing with Russia and pointed out that in granting prequalification of the vaccine, a detailed review of data from clinical trials will be required.