Aug. 11, 2020 — Before completing clinical trials to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective, the Russian government has gone ahead and approved a vaccine against the new coronavirus, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the vaccine works “effectively enough.”
The premature approval of a vaccine confirms concerns from other nations that Russia is more interested in making political and propaganda hay in the race to acquire a working vaccine, the Times reported.
Putin’s announcement comes despite a lack of published data on any testing for the vaccine.
Last week the World Health Organization urged Russia not to bypass the usual methods of testing to ensure safety and effectiveness.
“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Putin told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He also said one of his daughters been given the vaccine, the Times said.
The Russian vaccine was rushed through monkey and early human trials and was most likely successful. But it hasn’t been widely tested in large phase 3 trials — the only way of ensuring it’s safe and effective in broad populations.
Mikhail Murashko, Russia’s minister of health, has said mass vaccination will start in October, beginning with teachers and medical workers.
The Russia approval comes far ahead of when Western countries are expected to have a working vaccine, which isn’t expected before the end of the year.
The United States, Canada and Britain have accused Russian hackers of trying to steal vaccine research, spurring doubt that Russia has achieved any medical breakthrough on its own.
The Russians have said say their vaccine is based on an Ebola vaccine they developed years ago, the Times reported.
The Russian vaccine uses two strains of adenovirus — viruses that typically cause mild colds in humans. Similar vaccines are being tested in other countries. It’s the approach being used by Oxford University and drug maker AstraZeneca.