Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, citing the country's health ministry.
Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month. Some scientists however say they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters had already been inoculated.
Putin emphasized that the vaccine had undergone the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering lasting immunity from the coronavirus. However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire.
Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Putin emphasized that the vaccine had undergone proper testing and was proven safe to use.
The vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow uses a different virus – the common cold-causing adenovirus – that been modified to carry genes for the "spike” protein that coats the coronavirus, as a way to prime the body to recognize if a real COVID-19 infection comes along.
This is similar to vaccines being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics as well as Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
The World Health Organization (WHO) last week urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go "through all the stages" necessary to develop a safe vaccine.
The WHO and Russian health authorities are discussing the process for the possible prequalification of its newly approved COVID-19 vaccine, a WHO spokesman said on Tuesday.
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