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Russia to authorize public use of Covid-19 vaccine in August

. Jul 29, 2020
russia vaccine Photo: Bernard Chantal/Shutterstock

According to an announcement made by Vice-Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova on Wednesday, Russian authorities expect to clear a potential vaccine for local public use as soon as in August — making it the first publicly available vaccine in the world.

The vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow only cleared initial tests on humans this month and is yet to conduct its third and final round of tests, which provides a final verdict on the vaccine’s effectiveness through large scale trials.

Since first announced, the Gamaleya vaccine has been met with heavy skepticism from the international community due to its ‘too-quick-to-be-true’ testing procedures and lack of scientific standards.

According to the World Health Organization, only four prospective vaccines worldwide are currently undergoing phase three trials: three from China and one from the United Kingdom. American drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer are also set to begin the final round of testing on their own vaccines, including 30,000 volunteers across the U.S.

In comparison, the Gameleya vaccine is set to undergo phase three trials with only 1,600 people before receiving clearance.

According to a report by Reuters, the adenovirus-based vaccine is expected to gain regulatory approval within the next two weeks. Russian health workers will be given priority to receive the vaccine shortly after regulatory clearance, with inoculation expected to happen as early as August 15, adds the report.

Comparatively, the UK vaccine being developed by pharmaceuticals company AstraZenca in partnership with the University of Oxford — the first prospective vaccine to reach phase three — is only expected to be publicly available midway through 2021.

Despite the questionable results, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for financing the vaccine’s research, has affirmed that “no corners are being cut” in the development of the Gameleya vaccine.

Brazil’s first Covid-19 vaccine will come from … Russia?

As previously reported by The Brazilian Report, Brazilian authorities have negotiated for months on the testing and production of prospective vaccines across the country, with AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech the leading candidates in Brazil’s push for a Covid-19 vaccine.

However, now, it seems that Russia might jump the queue, as the Brazilian state of Paraná announced negotiations with Russian authorities for the production of the vaccine in Brazil. Paraná Governor Ratinho Junior is currently leading talks with Russia Ambassador to Brazil, Sergey Akopov.

The Gameleya vaccine is expected to begin mass production in September with a possible first batch available in October. Another prospective vaccine being developed in Russia — this time by the Scientific Research Institute of Rospotrebnadzor — is also expected to receive regulatory approval in September with mass production yet to be determined.

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Rafael Lima

Rafael is a Communication student at Wake Forest University, and a student fellow of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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