Russia’s announcement that it is the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine was met with heavy skepticism from medical professionals, The Associated Press reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that the Health Ministry approved a vaccine and one of his two adult daughters has already received her shot.
He said the vaccine underwent the requisite testing and was shown to provide lasting immunity against the virus.
Russian officials have “offered no proof to back up claims of safety or effectiveness,” the AP report noted.
“I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity,” Putin said. “We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world.”
Scientists warn it was rushed:
Scientists in Russia and other nations warned that the vaccine, which was only studied in dozens of people, was being rushed.
The vaccine has not yet entered its phase 3 trial, which involves thousands of people and can take months to get good data.
“Fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the race, it will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” said Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations.
The AP also could not find any documents indicating the Health Ministry’s approval to start the phase 3 trial.
“The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountably,” Imperial College London immunology professor Danny Altmann said in a statement.
Russia ready to start vaccinating:
Russian doctors and teachers will get first dibs on vaccines and advanced trials involving “several thousand people” are set to start this week, Russian officials claimed.
The World Health Organization has said that all vaccines need to go through large-scale trials before being rolled out to the general public.
“It’s a too early stage to truly assess whether it’s going to be effective, whether it’s going to work or not,” Dr. Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, told the AP.