A locally developed coronavirus vaccine in Russia has been granted regulatory approval after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin has confirmed.
Speaking at a government meeting on Tuesday (11 August), Mr Putin said that the vaccine had passed all of the required checks, making Russia the first country in the world to grant approval for an inoculation to the virus.
Russia has named its vaccine ‘Sputnik V’, in reference to the world’s first satellite Sputnik and what Russia sees as its success at becoming the first country to have a coronavirus vaccine approved.
Is the vaccine safe?
Despite undergoing less than two months of human testing, Mr Putin has said that the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and has already been administered to one of his two daughters.
He said that his daughter had a temperature of 38C on the day of her first injection, which then dropped to 37C the following day.
She also had a slight increase in temperature after the second injection, but this later dropped, and she is now said to be “feeling well”, with Mr Putin stating she has a “high number of antibodies”.
Speaking of the development, Mr Putin said: “As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered.
“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks.”
What will happen next?
The approval of Sputnik V paves the way for mass inoculation in Russia.
This comes in spite of the fact that the final stages of clinical trials to test its safety and efficacy are still ongoing, raising concerns among scientists over its potential risks.
This stage is usually considered an essential precursor before a vaccine can receive regulatory approval.
The approval of the vaccine by the health ministry comes ahead of the next stage of testing, known as a Phase III trial, which will involve thousands of participants and will observe the vaccine’s effect on people who have caught the virus.
Russian health workers who have been treating coronavirus patients will be offered the chance to volunteer as part of the study after the vaccine’s approval.
Officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will start in September, with mass vaccination planned to follow as early as October.
However, the speed at which Russia is aiming to roll out its vaccine has sparked concerns that it may be putting national prestige ahead of science and safety, despite assurances from Mr Putin that it has passed all of the required checks.
What other vaccines are in development?
More than 100 possible coronavirus vaccines are currently in development around the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At least four of the vaccines being developed have reached Phase III human trials, according to WHO data. Three of these are in development in China and one in the UK.
The UK has already secured access to 90 million doses of potential coronavirus vaccines, after agreeing partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and vaccine companies, German firm BioNTech, American firm Pfizer and French firm Valneva.
The UK government has also secured access to treatments containing coronavirus neutralising antibodies from British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to protect those who cannot receive vaccines, such as cancer and immunocompromised patients.
With these partnerships secured, the UK could have access to enough doses to vaccinate and protect priority groups, such as frontline health and social care workers and those with an increased health risk.
The access to 90 million doses follows an already existing global licensing agreement signed with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine for the UK public.
AstraZeneca will work to produce 100 million doses for the UK in total.