Moscow, August 11: Russia, which was stark in competition with the United States, the United Kingdom and China to develop the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, claimed a victory on Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin announced its launch earlier today, stating that one of his two daughters was given the first shot.
Even as the Russian establishment is putting forth its vaccine candidate as a "silver bullet" against the coronavirus pandemic, a few critical questions are yet to be addressed by officials in Moscow. Questions have been raised on its safety, and whether the due process was followed by Russia in developing the vaccine. Here's all you need to know.
- The vaccine, named "Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo Vacci" (officially called as 'Sputnik V), was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with Russia's Defence Ministry.
- The country has claimed that the clinical trials were successful, but did not specify whether the phase 2 or phase 3 trials were initiated.
- The last round of trials, which takes several months for completion and involves thousands of volunteers, was expected to be conducted after the official launch, as per reports.
- On June 17, the phase I of trials was initiated on 76 volunteers. The Russian Health Ministry had claimed that the trials were completely successful with no side-effects found in any of the participants.
- The Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo Vacci is based on the DNA of a SARS-CoV-2 type adenovirus, which causes common cold.
- According to Gamaleya Institute, the virus, on being induced into volunteers in a weakened form, succeeded in triggering immunity which can also guard them against coronavirus.
- The vaccine developers further claim that the virus particulates, injected into the body to trigger an immune response, cannot harm the host as they are incapable of reproducing.
- Dr Anthony Fauci, who heads the American state health body to fight epidemics, said safety checks were apparently not adhered to by the developers in a bid to release the vaccine at the earliest.
- "I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccines before they are administering the vaccine to anyone," Fauci was reported as saying.
- The UK, which has publicly decried the vaccine development process of Russia, announced that it would not be administering the vaccine developed by Moscow on its citizens.
- Putin attempted to allay domestic concerns on vaccine safety by announcing that one of his daughters is the first to receive the shot.
- "I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks," Putin was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
- The vaccine doses would be provided to frontline medical workers by end of this month. Russia aims at publicly releasing the shots by September.
- A mass vaccination drive would be conducted by October, said Health Minister Mikhail Murashko.
- Gamaleya and another pharmaceutical firm Binnopharm would be producing thousands of doses per month this year, followed by millions of doses per month in early 2021.
A number of third-world countries have reached out to Russia to ink a deal for vaccine supply once the doses are released publicly. "There is great interest from Brazil, from India, from many other countries that are very much looking forward to the Russian vaccine," Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 11, 2020 04:40 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).