Moscow: The world is racing against time to find the vaccine which will stop the spread of the pandemic coronavirus. It should be stated here that six coronavirus vaccines are currently in phase three of human trials. However, Russian media has reported recently that one of the coronavirus vaccine candidates in Russia has completed all three phases of human clinical trials successfully. The reports have said Russia will begin production of the vaccine soon. It is also planning for a huge vaccine drive across the country.
Russia has two COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the race. One vaccine is being developed by the ‘Vektor State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology’. The second vaccine candidate is a product of the ‘Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology’. The institute is working in collaboration with the Russian defence ministry.
‘TASS’ said August 1 that the human trials of the Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo are complete. It is the vaccine which has been developed by the ‘Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology’. The report also says that the vaccine will be registered by August 10 to 12. A ‘Bloomberg’ report has said that the vaccine will be available for use within ‘three to seven days of registration’.
‘TASS’ in another report has quoted head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev. In the report Dmitriev has said people who were injected with ‘Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo’ have developed immunity on the 21st day after receiving the first dose. He also has added that after the second dose of injection, the immunity level has gone up considerably.
“I can tell you, from the first and second phase we have a hundred per cent of people developing immunity after day 21. It doubles after the second shot. Hundred per cent of animals were also protected (against the novel coronavirus),” Dmitriev has been quoting as saying.
It should be stated here that it was July 13 when Russia claimed that their two-part phase I trial was a success. So the latest developments are being taken with a pinch of salt. Many are questioning as to how Russia could complete all the three stages of trials so quickly.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is monitoring the progress of all the COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The WHO is yet to announce the name of any vaccine clearing all three phases of human trials. Health experts are worried that Russia is cutting corners to produce the vaccine an ultimately will put people at risk. The WHO also stepped in and has urged Russia to follow the established guidelines to produce a ‘safe and effective vaccine’.
Top American virologist Dr Anthony Fauci who is also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has words of caution on this issue. “I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering it to anyone,” Fauci has said.
Chief of Russia’s sanitary watchdog Anna Popova said in an interview August 2 on the ‘Rossiya-1’ TV channel that she is confident the vaccine will work. “I have no doubts that the vaccine against the novel coronavirus that is to reach people will be absolutely safe and, of course, efficient,” Popova said. “I would like to hope that the immunity will be sustainable and lasting,” she added.
The Russian defence ministry has also clarified that the ‘tests of the vaccine on volunteers has been done in full compliance with the acting legislation and scientific methodological regulations’.