Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced the approval of the world’s first coronavirus vaccine but many questions remain. “I know that it works quite effectively,” Putin announced on state TV, going on to say that “it forms a stable immunity.” To back up his claims, the Russian leader announced that one of his daughters had already been vaccinated.
While a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 – the illness that has devastated the world – would certainly be newsworthy and cause for great celebration, there are many who doubt Putin’s claims of efficacy and safety. The vaccine was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute. The skepticism about this vaccine is largely due to the fact that is not undergone the generally thought to be crucial Phase 3 trials. Even if the vaccinne research was by the book up to this point, cutting corners and succumbing to political pressure could be a very dangerous and even disastrous precedent.
Danny Altmann, a London-based immunologist warns: “The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountable.”
In addition to skipping Phase 3 trials, many experts are concerned because there is no public data for global experts to scrutinize. As far as known data suggests, the Russian vaccine was only given to 76 volunteers before being promoted as a safe and effective option.
While Putin claims the Russian vaccine is the world’s first for this novel coronavirus, the Chinese government innocultated their military with an experimental vaccine in June. This vaccine was similarly met with concern from experts.
There are currently over 200 coronavirus vaccines in development, with 25 vaccines currently in the clinical evaluation stage of development as well as over 100 in an earlier stage of development, according to the World Health Organization.