Russia announces world’s first Covid-19 vaccine amid concerns over safety


Russia has on August 11 claimed that it has developed the world’s first vaccine against coronavirus that has infected more than 20 million people and killed nearly 750,000 worldwide besides, crippling the world economies.

President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as Russia became the 'world's first nation' to register a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday.

According to agency reports, Putin emphasized that the vaccine had passed all the necessary tests and of one of her daughters had taken part in the trial. "She's feeling well and has a high number of antibodies," the Russian leader added.

Russia’s vaccine candidate is an adenovirus-based viral vector vaccine which is combined with the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to induce an immune response in the body. It has dubbed vaccine "Sputnik V" after the Soviet satellite.

Russia has been pushing hard to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine and said earlier this month it hoped to launch mass production within weeks and turn out "several million" doses per month by next year. However, sceptics have expressed concern over the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Experts are questioning the fast track approach in the development of the vaccine. Alexander Chepurnov who is the former head of infectious diseases at Vektor was sceptical about the data provided by the Russian government. He said, "The danger is there in terms of the possibility of increasing the disease‘s severity with the wrong vaccine.

Pointing out that there is always a scope of 'infection intensifying', he said, “With some diseases —and for the coronavirus, this is already known that the infection can intensify with the presence of certain antibodies. So it should be known which antibodies the vaccine forms.”

Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Centre maintained that the coronavirus particles in the vaccine cannot harm the body as they cannot multiply. According to Sputnik News Agency, Alexander Gintsburg said, “The particles and objects that can reproduce their own kind are the ones that are considered alive. The particles in question cannot multiply.

While the Russian vaccine was given the go-ahead by Russia’s sanitary watchdog ‘Anna Popova’, the World Health Organization last week urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go "through all the stages" necessary to develop a safe vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which finances the vaccine project, said Phase 3 trials would start on Wednesday, industrial production was expected from September and that 20 countries had pre-ordered more than a billion doses, AFP reported.

Further, the president has asked Health Minister Mikhail Murashko to keep him informed about the Covid-19 vaccine, while at the same time noting that he knows "it works quite effectively" and "forms a stable immunity", according to Russian news agencies.

Image Credit: The Week 


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