With over 770,000 reported cases, Russia is the fourth-worst affected nation struck by the pandemic globally. Finding a Covid-19 vaccine has become a priority for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin
A vaccine in Russia is said to have cleared two important clinical trials. In early July, the country announced the completion of phase I/II of its vaccine and started discharging patients from the first batch.
According to experts, authorities aim to start phase III of its vaccine candidate in the Russian Federation, as well as expedite the process in countries the United Arab Emirates.
Status of clinical trials
While phase III is considered to be one of the most crucial phases of developing any vaccine, Russian epidemiologists have stated that they can make the vaccine available for the public as early as next month. This would be done in parallel to the phase III trials.
Phase III involves a larger pool of candidates, likely in the thousands. The tests are meant to reveal if there are any significant and observable side-effects, as well as to weigh pros and cons which could come in the process of mass inoculation.
Russia is testing two versions of a vaccine that relies on the use of an adenovirus vector to spike up immunity in the body. The first group consisted of 18 volunteers, while the second one of 23.
Officials are targeting up to 20 million doses of its vaccine to meet domestic needs before the year ends. The vaccine is being developed at the Gamaleya Institute, and at least 5 countries have expressed interest in producing it.
There’s been widespread speculation of Russian scientists stealing data from western laboratories to speed up the development of the vaccine.
Is it safe?
Since news of the trial completion was announced, the vaccine’s efficacy has been debated. The Russian government has stepped up to reassure the public.
“The safety of the vaccine is confirmed,” said a leading Russian scientist involved in the study. “The development plan is being determined by the developer’s strategy. It takes into account the complexity of the epidemiological situation with the virus and the possibility of scaling up production.”