Russia Becomes First Country to Approve COVID-19 Vaccine

Russia has become the first country in the world to approve and register a COVID-19 vaccine for public use. This was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin today in a televised conference call with all the government ministers.

“This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered”, he said in the conference.

The vaccine is approved ahead of completion of its final phases of clinical trials designed to test its effectiveness and safety in people. The president claimed that the vaccine works ‘effectively enough’.

Mr. Putin also said that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine.

“One of my daughters had this vaccine. I think in this sense she took part in the experiment,” Putin said.

The President also proclaimed the vaccine has gone through all the necessary tests. He announced that this is the first Russian vaccine that offers “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus.

The rush to find in Russia by bypassing important clinical trials steps have already raised international concerns. Many believe that the country is rushing approval for political or propaganda purposes. Experts have warned that cutting corners on testing can come back to haunt the government, if they are not careful.

The announcement this morning by the Russian President is being hailed as a claim of victory in the global race for a vaccine. While Russian officials have been hinting at it for several weeks now despite the absence of published information about any late-phase testing.

Last week in response, the World Health Organization warned that Russia should not deviated from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness. But it seems like the Russian government is not adhering to this advice.

Just this month the country also announced that they are pushing hard to develop a vaccine quickly and is hoping to launch mass production within weeks and produce “several million” doses per month by next year.

Any vaccine that is approved for human use, first usually goes through animal testing, followed by three phases of human clinical trials. These three phases gradually increase the number of subjects in the trials to ensure that a vaccine does what it is supposed to do and does not cause harm too humans. The phase three of any clinical trials involves tens of thousands of people or more.

It is important to note that the WHO maintains a comprehensive list of worldwide vaccine trials and in the latest version of the list, there is no Russian Phase.

The Russian vaccine has shown success in initial monkey trials followed by early human trials, but the organization that has developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to test it broadly in highly controlled trials. This last step is crucial to see that the vaccine does not end up killing more people than the actual virus.

The Ministry of health is also not answering questions about human trials and possible side effects. Many experts have warned that the vaccine might make people more susceptible to an infection and severe forms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

However, the Russian government seems adamant on their decision, with the minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, saying that the country will begin a mass vaccination campaign in October, starting with teachers and medical workers.

The news of the vaccine approval has come way before other vaccines are expected to reach the public in other parts of the country. US health agencies on many occasions have said that a vaccine will not become available sooner than the end of this year.

The governments of many countries like United States, Canada and Britain have all accused Russian state hackers of attempting to steal vaccine research as well. Many claim that this Russian breakthrough has come because of these hacking attempts.

Russian officials have denied the accusation and say their leading vaccine is based on a design developed by Russian scientists to counter Ebola years ago.

The Russian Coronavirus vaccine developed in Moscow, uses two strains of adenovirus that typically cause mild colds in humans. This approach is very similar to the one being utilized by the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

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