Vaccine breakthrough? Russia’s ‘Sputnik-V’ faces skepticism

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Vladimir Putin recently announced that Russia had approved its first Covid-19 vaccine. He went ahead to say that the vaccine offered sustainable immunity against the novel Coronavirus. He added that the it had been administered to her daughter and considers it to have passed all the required checks.

According to Russian officials, mass vaccination is set to start in October. However, experts, researchers and the World Health Organisation (WHO) think otherwise.

Despite this huge ‘breakthrough’, concerns were raised on the speed and procedure taken by Russia in coming up with the vaccine. They were accused of ignoring some important international guidelines on production of vaccines.

According to WHO, vaccines should undergo 4 stages of clinical trials before approval. Phase I involves testing the new vaccine on a small group of people to determine safety. Phase II tests what has been found to be safe in phase I but now needs a larger group of people. Phase III involves tests on larger populations in different regions. Phase IV now entails tests in different countries before being officially approved.

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Currently, WHO has a list of 6 vaccines that have reached Phase III clinical trials. Surprisingly, Russia’s isn’t among them. WHO thinks Russia is cutting corners by approving the vaccine before conducting Phase III of the trials, which is very crucial.

In response to this, WHO spokesperson, Christian Lindmeier, expressed concerns over Russia’s speed and the procedure they took in coming up with this new vaccine, what they’ve named ‘Sputnik-V’, in honour of the first world satellite.

“There are established practices and there are guidelines out that any vaccine for this purpose should be of course, going through all the various trials and tests before being licenced for roll-out. Sometimes, individual researchers claim they have found something, which is of course, as such, great news. “But between finding or having a clue of maybe having a vaccine that works, and having gone through all the stages, is a big difference,” Lindmeier told reporters.

Remember, Russia began its first clinical trials on June 17, months after other teams around the world.

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