In October, Russia starts mass Covid-19 vaccinations

Russian health officials claim a potential coronavirus vaccine has finished clinical trials in a Moscow lab and there could be mass vaccinations by October, news wires reported. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said state research facility Gamaleya Institute is one step closer to registering the vaccine, according to Interfax news agency.

Russia’s first potential vaccine would secure local regulatory approval in August, a source told Reuters. But the fast pace of production of the adenovirus-based vaccine, coming just five months after Covid-19 became widespread in Russia, has given pause to Western experts, who question the adequacy of testing for the drug.

The vaccine is essentially a common cold virus fused with the spike protein of SARS CoV-2 to prompt an immune response. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, said he hoped that Russia, China and other international competitors racing for a vaccine were "actually testing the vaccine" before administering them to anyone.

Fauci predicts the US will have a "safe and effective" vaccine by the end of this year. "I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines," he told lawmakers during a congressional hearing earlier this week. Fauci's comments come after reports that hundreds of Russian business and political elite have been receiving shots of the Gamaleya vaccine since April.

At least four potential vaccines are in the final Phase III human trials of development, according to World Health Organisation data, including three developed in China and another in Britain. The new developments on the vaccine come weeks after security officials in the US, UK and Canada said Russian hackers were responsible for a cyberattack aimed at stealing information about other country's potential vaccines.

Meanwhile, Russia reported 5,427 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing its nationwide tally to 850,870, the fourth highest in the world. 70 people had died over the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll in the country to 14,128.

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