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Russia Announces COVID-19 Vaccine, But Western Docs Doubt Safety Standards

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Russia Announces COVID-19 Vaccine, But Western Docs Doubt Safety Standards

Russia says it’s the winner of the vaccine race, but western health experts say otherwise.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his country registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine. Putin says the drug passed all required safety checks, and mass vaccinations will begin in October. According to Russian officials, Industrial production of the “Sputnik V” vaccine will start in Septemeber. Also, 20 nations have pre-ordered more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine.

Putin painted the vaccine registration as a significant Russian victory over its international rivals. However, Western health experts are skeptical of its regulatory standards. Critics say that Russia jumped the gun by registering the vaccine before it underwent the full clinical evaluation process. The WHO said on Tuesday that it’s negotiating with Russian authorities about conducting a secondary review of the vaccine.

Phase-3 drug trials are one of the last hurdles before regulatory approval. Additionally, the tests usually involve thousands of people and take months to complete. However, Russia’s human testing phase lasted just two months and was much smaller than a typical Phase-3 trial. Many researchers are also critical of the Gamaletya Insitute in Moscow, which led the vaccine research, and its failure to release any safety or immunity data from its studies.

Vaccine Development in Russia

Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund, is responsible for the group that’s bankrolling vaccine development. Dmitriev says emphatically that the vaccine is safe and “no corners have been cut.” According to Dmitriev, Russia will begin Phase-3 trials on Wednesday. In response to concerns regarding the vaccine’s rapid development, Dmitriev explained, “Russian science is more advanced in this than many other nations.” Dimitriev said both he and family members took the vaccine without significant side effects.

Putin also has enough confidence in the vaccine to give it to his family. He said one of his two daughters “took part in the experiment” by taking the vaccine shot. The Russian president says his vaccinated daughter is feeling well. He added that it’s essential that the country begin mass production of the vaccine as soon as possible. “I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.

Doubts

Clinical research was a $49.4 billion market in the U.S. in 2019. Therefore, it’s not surprising that so many health organizations are critical of the Russian vaccine. It’s in the health industry’s best financial interest to push for maximum research and trials, but Russia has never been afraid to play by its own rules. The country took a fast & aggressive approach to vaccine development and, if you believe Putin, it seems like it’s paying off.

Phase-3 trials of Sputnik V will begin on Wednesday, but it’s doubtful the West will get behind a Russian vaccine. Even if the Russian vaccine passes tests with flying colors, the U.S. will likely pursue its path to a preventative drug for COVID-19.

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