Medical experts alarmingly ask if Russia’s COVID vaccine can be relied upon
LONDON (UK) – Russia announced on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved post less than two months of human testing. Global health experts were alarmed who stressed that it cannot be relied upon with no full trial data.
Russia is yet to conduct trials of the shot on a large scale that would have data to show if it has any effects.
Ayfer Ali, a specialist in drug research at Britain’s Warwick Business School, said, “Russia is essentially conducting a large population level experiment”.
She said fast approval of shots implies that it would be too early for the adverse effects of a vaccine to be picked up.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and one of his own daughters have taken the same.
Putin said, “I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks.”
Francois Balloux, an expert at University College London’s Genetics Institute, said, “Mass vaccination with an improperly tested vaccine is unethical. Any problem with the Russian vaccination campaign would be disastrous both through its negative effects on health, but also because it would further set back the acceptance of vaccines in the population.”
Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, which are the frontrunners, say they are hopeful to see if their vaccines work and are safe by the end of this year.
That said, the Russian vaccine has been approved by the Health Ministry even before trials, which normally involve thousands of participants. Termed as Phase III trial, such trials are usually considered predominant for the vaccine to get through regulatory approval.
Peter Kremsner, an expert at Germany’s University Hospital in Tuebingen, “Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” he said. “I think it’s reckless to do that if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”
Keith Neal, a specialist in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at Britain’s Nottingham University, said, “It is not possible to know if the Russian vaccine has been shown to be effective without submission of scientific papers for analysis.”
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.