U.S. experts express concern over Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Clay Curtis
August 13, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine for use on Tuesday, claiming it as a "world first", amid continued concern and unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness.

Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center, says the vaccine's protective properties should be intact for at least two years after its administration.

"Perhaps what Russian Federation is saying is that the benefit will outweigh what would be a very great risk of deploying this vaccine".

The World Health Organization says the vaccine approved by Russian Federation this week is not among the nine that it considers in the advanced stages of testing.

Under normal circumstances vaccine development is a slow process, starting with cultured cells, usually followed by animal testing.

Under normal conditions, the research required to bring a vaccine to market can take decades.

It is believed to be the first time wearable technology is being used in clinical trials for a vaccine against coronavirus.

How long will COVID-19 be around after we develop a vaccine?

"I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks", Putin said, adding his own daughter had received the supposed vaccine. The rules for conducting clinical trials are written in blood.

"It can be unsafe to start vaccinating millions of people too early, because if something goes wrong, it could completely kill the approval of vaccines", said German Health Minister Jens Spahn told local media.

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"Even in the US and other jurisdictions, there are methods about our emergency use authorisations that can also shortcut wider deployment of vaccines so it's all about the risk versus benefit".

"I think the Australia way is to shut up and do it and you can shout about it from the rooftops once you've succeeded".

In the first extension of the 4Humanity programme outside the UAE, hundreds of people are now volunteering for the Phase III trials in Bahrain. However, these are all groups that should be able to get the vaccine in the future.

The Phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for Covid-19 in the UAE have reached the target of 15,000 volunteers in less than a month, with individuals from 102 nationalities participating in the programme. Preliminary results should be available by the end of 2020. "The point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective", Mr Azar said.

"Each country has national regulatory bodies that approve the use of vaccines or drugs in its territory", he said.

So, to clear Phase 3 has become more critical, but it is assumed that the collateral damage is less than the release of a vaccine.

Although it would be wonderful to get a vaccine into the population quickly, there could be substantial downsides if researchers and manufacturers cut corners.

Over 140 doctors, 300 nurses, and many more administrative and technical support staff helped to facilitate the vaccine trial. The program is created to use various avenues to help accelerate development of treatments and tests, while determining if such tests are helpful or harmful. With more than two crore people having been infected and nearly 7.5 lakh having died of Covid-19 till now, and economies having been crippled beyond any comparable event in almost a century, all eyes are on the magical shot. Russia, in fact, provides an important historical example.

Managed by G42 Healthcare in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA, the trials were a world first when they commenced in Abu Dhabi on July 16. A large outbreak of diphtheria then spread through eastern Europe, leaving over 4,000 people dead.

Hasty rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine could prime people not only to not trust the COVID-19 vaccine but also to doubt vaccination and public health systems as a whole.

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