- Putin claimed that Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine has ‘passed all necessary tests’
- Scientists slammed his ‘reckless and foolish’ decision and said it was ‘unethical’
- He said one of his daughters had developed antibodies after being injected
- Russian officials have said mass vaccination could begin as soon as October
- Putin says 20 countries have already ordered a billion does of the vaccine
- Experts are sceptical because full-scale Phase III trials have not yet taken place
As it was expected from previous announcements. Russia on Tuesday became the first country to officially register a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international scepticism.
Speaking at a government meeting on Tuesday, Mr Putin emphasized that the vaccine has undergone proper testing and proven safe to use. “I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,”.
He further added that one of his two daughters has received two shots of the vaccine and is feeling well. “She has taken part in the experiment,” Putin said.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has already struck a deal for millions of doses while India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have previously expressed an interest in the drug, according to Russian officials.
However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire.
The vaccine has been named Sputnik V after the former Soviet space satellites.
The Russian jab is a type called a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses another virus to carry the immune agent – damaged parts of the real coronavirus, which can trigger a reaction but not cause an infection – into human cells.
The vaccine uses an adenovirus, a type of virus best known for causing the common cold, which has been weakened so it cannot trigger illness.
Oxford University is also using the same method to develop the vaccine.
Mr. 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,” Mr. Putin added.
Russia claims the jab sped through early trials on monkeys and humans, known as Phase I and II trials, and was safe and effective at producing antibodies against Covid-19.
But the main problem is that the scientists behind the vaccine have yet not released scientific data from the trials, thus the results of the vaccine have not been scrutinised by independent experts.
The Russian jab has also not been put through rigorous Phase 3 trials, which are considered the only way to ensure vaccines are safe and actually work.
During these tests, sometimes known as efficacy trials, scientists give the vaccine to tens of thousands of people and wait to see how many become infected.
They then compare their results with volunteers who caught the infection after receiving a placebo.
Scientists say this final phase is the only way to statistically prove a vaccine prevents infection.
And because it’s a much larger testing group, the trials can also pick up subtle side effects that may only affect a small percentage of people.
These rare side effects can become dangerous when vaccines are scaled up for entire populations of tens of millions of people.
Why Scientists are raising question against the Russian COVID-19 vaccine?
Professor Peter Openshaw, an experimental medicine expert at Imperial College London, said today: ‘It’s important to emphasise that this vaccine has not been approved or even fully tested. The Russian health authorities are discussing the process for possible WHO pre-qualification as an approved vaccine.
‘There are currently 19 vaccines that have been tested for the ability to generate antibody (Phase I), another 11 that have passed this stage and gone on to expended testing (Phase II), eight at Phase III and one vaccine approved for limited use.
‘So far, it is reported that the Russian vaccine has undergone less than two months of human testing in a total of 38 people. It appears to be at Phase I or II. According to news sources, there is a Phase III trial of 1,600 people planned. That’s not actually very large for a vaccine trial and would assume a high rate of infection in the volunteers.’
According to Dr Michael Head, a global health researcher at the University of Southampton, there is neither any paper published by Russian researchers regarding this jab nor any data submitted so no private organization or country can test for its effectiveness.
‘There have been lessons learned from previous vaccine roll-outs, that were usurped by anti-vaccination activists and population health has greatly suffered.
‘Examples include the HPV vaccine in Denmark or Japan, where uptake plunged after anti-vaccine campaigns and irresponsible comments from some scientists.
If I personally say like a writer or a common person there is some doubt regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine as there is no data submitted by Russia on the public domain. Also, they have not gone through phase III trial of the vaccine, which is very important.
But as you know there is a race of finding vaccine many countries have invested billions of dollar in it. So if any country finds it first others will definitely raise the question. Some top Russian officials have also accepted that they had got the jab as soon as in June and it worked.
Whatever be the truth it will be safe for us to take covid-19 vaccine developed by any organization at least it is 1-2 month old. Or is it a conspiracy of China and Russia?