Russia aiming to approve COVID-19 vaccine within weeks: report
Russia is aiming to approve a COVID-19 vaccine within weeks, although the country hasn’t released data on its vaccine tests yet, CNN reported Tuesday.
Russian officials told the outlet they are hoping to gain approval for a vaccine developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute on Aug. 10 or earlier. Once approved for public use, front-line health care workers will receive the vaccine first, the officials said.
Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, called the development a “Sputnik moment,” referencing when the Soviet Union launched the world’s first satellite.
“Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping. It’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first,” he said, according to CNN.
The outlet noted it was unable to verify the safety or effectiveness of Russia’s vaccine without data released on its testing.
Russia said it plans to release its data for peer review and publication in early August, though critics predict the country is rushing vaccine development to keep ahead of other global powers.
Russian officials defend the development speed, citing the pandemic and Russia’s growing number of COVID-19 cases.
The country has confirmed more than 822,000 cases and at least 13,483 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Russia’s vaccine would require patients to receive a second booster shot, according to CNN.
Dozens of developers have begun vaccine trials globally, with a small amount starting large-scale trials, including in the U.S. and the U.K. But experts have cautioned that the timeline is ongoing, and developers have not set deadlines for vaccines to be ready.
Russia’s vaccine still needs to finish its second phase of testing, which officials say they expect to complete by Aug. 3. Then, the third phase of testing will be conducted at the same time that front-line health care workers are vaccinated, according to the network.
The defense ministry said that Russian soldiers have already acted as volunteers in human trials.
Russia has denied claims that spies hacked into U.S., Canadian and U.K. labs to learn about their COVID-19 vaccination development and allegations that the country has given early vaccination access to the political and business elite, including President Vladimir Putin.