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World’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Launched by Russia Ahead of Completion of Final Testing

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 12 Aug 2020
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Russia became the first country to approve an experimental COVID-19 vaccine which will be administered to millions of people, including thousands of teachers and front-line health-care workers over the coming weeks even before the completion of its clinical trial.

Announcing the Health Ministry’s approval, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, had undergone the necessary tests and had demonstrated providing lasting immunity to the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press. However, Russian authorities are yet to offer any proof to back up claims of safety or effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sputnik-V has been tested on some volunteers, although Russia has not yet completed the larger type of study required to prove its safety and protection against infection by the coronavirus. Russian scientists have not yet published any scientific information about the vaccine’s performance in animal tests or early-stage human studies. As a result, scientists in Russia and across the world have expressed concern that offering the vaccine before the completion of final-stage testing could be dangerous.

Similar to the approach adopted for the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, the Sputnik-V vaccine also uses the common cold-causing adenovirus that has been modified to carry genes for the “spike” protein that coats the coronavirus, in order to prime the body to recognize if a real COVID-19 infection strikes. The vaccine, developed jointly by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defense Ministry, has two separately-injected components that together are expected to build a long-term immunity against the virus. A recent statement by the Russian Health Ministry said that the vaccine is expected to provide immunity from the coronavirus for up to two years, based on its experience with vaccines developed using similar technology. Russia has reportedly received preliminary applications for over one billion doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine from 20 countries and was ready to manufacture 500 million doses of the vaccine annually in five countries. Amidst warnings by experts that improperly tested vaccines could be harmful to health and undermine trust in vaccinations, Russia plans to start vaccinating doctors as early as this month and mass vaccinations by October.

“Fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the race, it will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” said Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations, in urging government officials to postpone approving the vaccine without completed advanced trials.



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