On Tuesday, Russia brought before the public the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, dubbed “Sputnik-V,” with the country’s president President Vladimir Putin stating that one of his daughters had already received an inoculation and that it was ready for general use.
The Russian leader stressed that the vaccine will be voluntary, not mandated by the government, but that medical personnel, teachers and those in other high-risk groups will be the first to receive the new injection.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova stated that doctors may be the first members of the general public to receive inoculations this month. Mass vaccinations on a wider scale may begin as early as October.
The Russian vaccine has already been the subject of a great deal of skepticism from all corners of the world for the way its trials have appeared to have been rushed. Other vaccines, including that created by an Oxford University lab and the National Institutes of Health in the US, are still undergoing trials.
The widely-held practice for such trials employs three phases, the last of which must involve the use of thousands of volunteer subjects over many months’ time.
However, at a Tuesday news conference, Putin insisted that the Russian vaccine had undergone all the necessary testing, stressing that it indeed created long-term immunity to Covid-19.
According to a report from the Associated Press, the Russian leader stated “I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests.”
He then said “We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world,” adding that one of his two adult daughters had herself received two inoculations of the new vaccine. “She has taken part in the experiment,” Putin stated.
The Russian leader admitted that she had a high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) the first time she received the vaccine but the next day it had returned to normal. Then again after her second inoculation she spiked a slight temperature, which then receded quickly the following day.
Putin shared to the members of the press that “She’s feeling well and has high number of antibodies.”
The Interfax news agency reported that the chief of the Gamaleya Institute, which developed the new inoculation, Professor Alexander Gintsburg, stated that, in an unusual move, the vaccinations will begin while the Phase 3 trials are still underway.
At the outset of the vaccine’s development, the professor had reportedly stated that there would only be enough of it produced for 10 to 15 of Russia’s 85 regions.
Back in May, it had been reported that Gintsburg had tried the vaccine on himself.
Russia, which by its own count has had a total of 897,599 cases of the coronavirus and 15,131 deaths, has made the development of a vaccine a national campaign. Upon its unveiling, state media heaped praise on the scientists, saying that the new inoculation was the “envy of other nations.”
Last month, Great Britain, the US and Canada charged that Russia had been behind an effort to steal coronavirus vaccine research from these Western countries.
CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta stated on the network on Tuesday morning that he would not be taking the vaccine because of the dearth of reliable information on its development.
The longtime physician stated that the revealing of the new vaccine reminded him of when Russia claimed that it was developing a vaccine for the Ebola virus. Gupta said that he had never seen any Phase 3 trial evidence from that effort.
Other medical experts chimed in on the development as well. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the US’ Food and Drug Administration, told interviewers from CNBC that Russia by no means is ahead of the US in developing a coronavirus vaccine, stating “I think in terms of their development right now, they’re a little bit behind where we are with the vaccines that we have.”