Russia registers Covid-19 vaccine, Putin's daughter has received it

Russia has become the first country to approve a vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, adding that one of his daughters has been inoculated. The announcement came after scientists in the West raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners after coming under pressure from authorities to deliver.

"This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered" in Russia, Putin said during a TV video conference call with government ministers. "I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity," he said. He said one of his daughters had been inoculated with the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the Russian defence ministry. "In this sense she took part in the experiment," Putin said, adding that she had a slight temperature after a second injection and "that's all".

"What counts most is for us to be able to ensure the unconditional safety of the use of this vaccine and its efficiency in the future. I hope that this will be accomplished," Putin noted.

With more than 897,000 confirmed infections, Russia is currently fourth in the world after the US, Brazil and India.

Russia's Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that clinical trials involving several thousand participants would continue. Tatyana Golikova, a deputy prime minister in charge of health issues, said officials hoped that vaccinations of medical staff could begin soon. "We really hope that the vaccine can be produced in September, or even at the end of August or beginning of September, and the first category to be vaccinated will be medical personnel," she said, quoted by Russian news agencies.

The WHO last week urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go "through all the stages" necessary to develop a safe vaccine. Spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters at the time that the WHO had not been officially notified of any Russian vaccine on the verge of being deployed.

The vaccine developed by Russia is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells, AFP reported. Gamaleya's vaccine is based on the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China's CanSino. The state-run Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the prototype several months ago, with specialists criticising the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.

Moscow has dismissed allegations from Britain, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.

 

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