Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday announced a coronavirus vaccine, touting it as a “world-first”, even though there are still some reservations about its effectiveness and safety for human use.
“A vaccine against coronavirus has been registered for the first time in the world this morning,” Putin said on state TV. “I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity. I hope our foreign colleagues’ work will move as well, and a lot of products will appear in an international market that could be used”, he said.
The vaccine, named Sputnik-v was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute. The name is a reference to the surprise 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union.
Although the treatment is yet to go through crucial Phase 3 trials where it would be administered to thousands of people, Putin said one of his daughters had already taken it; he said she had a slightly higher temperature after each dose, but that: “Now she feels well.”
Doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are fuelled by the fact that Russia is yet to release any scientific data on its testing. Earlier this month, there were allegations that Russian agents hacked into American and British research facilities to steal vaccine secrets; but Russia vehemently denied this, describing such allegation as baseless. Despite this, Russian officials have claimed that no less than 20 countries and some US companies have expressed interest in the vaccine.
Russia is just one of many countries rushing to produce a vaccine for Covid-19, which has now infected more than 20 million people, killing more than 730,000 around the world. In June, the Chinese government approved the use of an experimental coronavirus vaccine for the country’s military. The vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, was jointly-developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology — part of the Chinese government’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences — and vaccine company CanSino Biologics.