The first coronavirus vaccine in the world has been registered in Russia, the country’s President Vladimir Putin announced today morning.
The vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center, has an official registration with the Russian Health Ministry, Putin told a meeting with members of the government in Moscow.
Putin added that the vaccine trials yielded positive results, with all volunteers having built up immunity to the coronavirus.
The vaccine is based on adenovirus and contains dead COVID-19 particles which cannot multiply and are therefore safe, said Alexander Gintzburg, head of the center.
However, it can provoke an immune response such as high temperature to the introduction of foreign substances, he added.
The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continues.
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.
“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.
He said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.
Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.
Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.
Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop Covid-19 vaccines will not compromise safety. But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine.
Russian health workers treating Covid-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine’s approval, a source told Reuters last month.
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the Covid-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and territories.
The US is leading with the most confirmed infections with 5.09 million, followed by Brazil with over 3 million cases and India with 2.27 million, according to data compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
Russian has had some 891,000 cases to date.