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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Russia announces world's first Covid-19 vaccine, Putin's daughter gets vaccinated

Russia announces world's first Covid-19 vaccine, Putin's daughter gets vaccinated

Amid the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a coronavirus vaccine, touted as the world's first such vaccine, too. The registration of the vaccine lays ground for mass inoculation even as the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.


The announcement came in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 20 million people and killed nearly 750,000 worldwide, thus, crippling world economies.

Russia dubbed its newly launched vaccine against coronavirus "Sputnik V" after the Soviet satellite, the head of the country's sovereign wealth fund said, as per reports.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which finances the vaccine project, said Phase 3 trials would start on Wednesday, industrial production was expected from September and that 20 countries had pre-ordered more than a billion doses, AFP reported.

Further, the president has asked Health Minister Mikhail Murashko to keep him informed about the Covid-19 vaccine, while at the same time noting that he knows "it works quite effectively" and "forms a stable immunity", according to Russian news agencies.

"This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered" in Russia, Putin said during a televised video conference call with government ministers, as per news agency AFP.

Putin further thanked everyone who worked on the vaccine's development and described it as "a very important step for the world". He hopes the country's research body will soon start mass production of coronavirus vaccine.

"I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks," said Putin.

He emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests. He added that one of his two daughters has received a dose of the vaccine and is feeling well, according to Associated Press reports.

Putin said that his daughter had a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) on the day of the first vaccine injection, and then it dropped to just over 37 degrees (98.6 Fahrenheit) on the following day. After the second shot she again had a slight increase in temperature, but then it was all over. “She's feeling well and has high number of antibodies," Putin added.

However, the vaccine’s registration is conditional and trials will continue while production gets underway, said Murashko.


Murashko also added that the first Russian vaccine against the coronavirus will begin to be produced at two sites - the Gamaleya Research Institute and the company Binnopharm.

"The two-stage injection plan helps form a lasting immunity. The experience with vector vaccines and two-stage scheme shows that immunity lasts for up to two years", the Health Ministry said, as reported by Sputnik News.

Currently, WHO and Russian health authorities are discussing the process for possible WHO prequalification for its newly approved COVID-19 vaccine, a WHO spokesman said today.

"We are in close contact with Russian health authorities and discussions are ongoing with respect to possible WHO prequalification of the vaccine, but again prequalification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a U.N. briefing in Geneva, referring to clinical trials, according to Reuters.

Moreover, the president has tasked the government with ensuring funding for flu and coronavirus vaccination after vaccines are registered, noting that up to 60% of Russians should be vaccinated against flu.

What reaction has there been to Russia's vaccine efforts?The progress Russia says it has made on a coronavirus vaccine has been met with scepticism by health officials and media outlets in the US and Europe.

They fear Russia may be cutting corners in its attempts to win what some officials have likened to the space race contested by the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War.

Last month, America's leading infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci expressed doubts about the rigour of the testing process in fast-track vaccine efforts in Russia and China.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier has echoed those sentiments, telling reporters on 4 August: "Sometimes individual researchers claim they have found something, which is of course, as such, great news.

"But between finding or having a clue of maybe having a vaccine that works, and having gone through all the stages, is a big difference."

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