Russia has granted regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing. Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant the approval and thus proving its scientific mettle.
However, the vaccine has to complete final trials, raising concerns at the speed of its approval. According to Reuters, the health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.
The vaccine’s approval by the health ministry comes before the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial. Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.
Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin dismissed those concerns, saying the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, is safe and he said he hoped mass production soon.
The Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Russian health authorities are discussing the process for possible WHO prequalification for its newly approved COVID-19 vaccine, a WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a U.N. briefing in Geneva, referring to clinical trials.
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.