Russia approved a vaccine for COVID-19 on Tuesday, becoming the first nation in the world to mark the achievement.
President Vladimir Putin, who announced the approval of the vaccine, said one of his two adult daughters has already been inoculated. Putin also said the vaccine underwent all tests to show its effectiveness, although Russian officials offered no data to back up his claim. The approval was granted by Russian health officials after just two months of human testing, Reuters reported.
“A vaccine against coronavirus has been registered for the first time in the world this morning. I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity,” Putin said on state TV on Tuesday. “I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks. … We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world.”
Putin said that his daughter had a 104.4-degree temperature when she had her first vaccine injection. Her temperature dropped to 98.6 degrees the next day, while a second shot brought a slight increase in her temperature, which later dropped, The Associated Press reported.
The vaccine, called Sputnik-V, which is a reference to the 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union, was developed by the Gamaleya Institute, which is based in Moscow. Russia’s health ministry said the vaccine can provide coronavirus immunity for up to two years, according to the AP. The inoculations could be available as soon as next month.
But scientists warned that the vaccine never underwent Phase 3 trials — which involve thousands of patients and usually lasts for months.
“Fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the (vaccine) race, it will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations said Monday, urging government officials to postpone clearing the vaccine without completed advanced trials.
“The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountably,” Imperial College London immunology professor Danny Altmann said in a statement Tuesday.
The world’s largest COVID-19 vaccine study in the world began early this month, with the first of 30,000 Americans volunteering to take the shots. The experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Moderna Inc., is in phase three of the development process, which includes tests at clinical sites across the country.
“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said in a statement. “The launch of this phase-3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”