Russian President Vladimir Putin while announcing the first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the Coronavirus on Tuesday, wherein he said the locally developed vaccine for Coronavirus pandemic had been given regulatory approval after less than two months of human trials.
The head of the Russian sovereign wealth fund said the vaccine is named as –“Sputnik-V” –referring to the surprise 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union.
According to the head of the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), 20 countries around the world have already requested more than a billion doses of the new vaccine.
Mr Putin while breaking the news during a televised video conference call with government ministers said, “This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered” in Russia. He also said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, offered “sustainable immunity” against the Coronavirus.
Mr Putin further stated that the vaccine had passed all the required checks, adding that one of his daughters was also given the same.
The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two serotypes of human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new Coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response.
Russia has been pushing hard to develop a Coronavirus vaccine quickly and said earlier this month it hoped to launch mass production within weeks and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the vaccine had “proven to be highly effective and safe”, hailing it as a significant step towards “humankind’s victory” over Coronavirus.
Last week Mr Murashko had said that they are preparing to start a mass vaccination by October, after saying it had carried out successful trials of the vaccine. On Tuesday he affirmed the vaccination would be first administered to medical workers and then on teacher voluntarily by the end of this month or early September.
Meanwhile, reports say that the Russian scientific body is yet to conduct Phase III tests on tens of thousands of volunteers in highly controlled trials, a process identified as the only method of ensuring a vaccine is actually safe and effective.
Criticisms and Doubts about Russian Coronavirus Vaccine:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week had urged Russia to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Coronavirus.
WHO also hasn’t included the Russian vaccine in the list of six vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials, with widespread testing in humans.
Experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, fearing researchers might be cutting corners to launch the vaccine in the market first. Due to the lack of published data about the Russian vaccine leaves the scientists, health authorities, governments and the general public in the dark.
United States top infectious disease official Dr Anthony Fauci said he had not heard of any evidence that the vaccine was ready for widespread use. Dr Fauci added that he seriously doubts whether Russia has proven its vaccine safe and effective.
According to a report by Reuters, there exists little clarity about how the vaccine is made, and details on safety, immune response and whether it can prevent Covid-19 infection.
Many critics alleged that the Russian vaccine being approved well ahead of the timeline could become a symbol of national pride and provide a lift for Mr Putin. His popularity ratings have declined steadily recently under the pressure of the pandemic and a faltering economy.
More than 160 vaccines around the world are in the early development stage, with some being tested on people in clinical trials. Out of it, more than 30 are in the various stages of human trail.
Nonetheless, most experts believe that a vaccine will not be widely available until mid-2021.
Current Scenario – India
In India currently, three vaccines are under various stages of human trail. These include the one developed by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology which is in phase 1 trial and a potential vaccine by Zydus Cadila that has now entered into phase 2 trial.
Also, an experimental vaccine developed by United Kingdom’s Oxford University, for which the Serum Institute of India is a manufacturing partner, has been granted regulatory approvals to conduct phase 2 and 3 trials across 17 sites in the country.
In the meantime, India is looking into ways for the transportation and logistics of the Russian vaccine after administration. On Tuesday Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare tweeted: “The Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration under the chairmanship of Dr V K Paul will meet on August 12 to consider logistics and ethical aspects of procurement and administration of Coronavirus vaccine.”
The coming days with the mass vaccination claimed to be conducted by the Russian officials will prove how effective the vaccine is in reality.
The pandemic which has already affected more than 20 million people across the globe have taken the lives of more than 7.4 lakh people. Scientists and Researcher institutes globally have been working for months to protect the billions of people around the world.