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Russia has claimed victory in the race for a coronavirus vaccine after it was the first country to officially register one and declare it ready for use Tuesday, despite less than two months of human testing and not completing final trials.
President Vladimir Putin emphasized at a government meeting Tuesday that the vaccine, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, underwent the “necessary tests” and even claimed that the vaccine was already administered to one of his daughters.
“I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” he said at a government meeting Tuesday. “The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency.”
Putin added that one of his two adult daughters had “taken part in the experiment” and received two shots of the vaccine.
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He said his daughter had a temperature of about 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of the first injection, and then it dropped to just over 98.6 degrees on the following day. After the second shot she again had a slight increase in temperature.
Putin claimed his daughter had a “high number of antibodies,’ however, he didn’t specify which of his two daughters – Maria or Katerina – receive the vaccine.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Russia could start vaccinating doctors as early as this month. The Health Ministry said in Tuesday’s statement that the vaccine is expected to provide immunity from the virus for up to two years.
While Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers, and other risk groups will be the first to be inoculated, Putin emphasized that the vaccine will be voluntary.
The vaccine will be marketed under the name “Sputnik V” on foreign markets as Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, compared the moment to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite Sputnik 1, according to Reuters.
Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will start in September, and mass vaccination may begin as early as October.
However, the international scientific community is sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire.
“Not sure what Russia is up to but I certainly would not take a vaccine that hasn’t been tested in Phase III,” Florian Krammer, Professor of Vaccinology at the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said on Twitter Tuesday. “Nobody knows if it’s safe or if it works.”
The Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO) in Russia said less than 100 people had officially received the vaccine by early August and urged the health ministry to postpone approval in a letter sent to Health Minister Mikhail Murashko Monday, according to Bloomberg.
The World Health Organization said all vaccine candidates should go through full stages of testing before being rolled out. According to WHO data, more than 100 candidates vaccines are being developed around the world with at least four in Phase III human trials.
Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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