Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 that his country has become the first to approve a coronavirus vaccine, and that his own daughter has received the shot.
The vaccine is in production and millions of people, including teachers and frontline health-care workers, will be given the shot beginning this month, he claimed.
China has already authorised one vaccine for use in its military, ahead of definitive data that it is safe and effective.
The Russian vaccine was reportedly given to the scientists who developed it as well as 50 members of the Russian military and a handful of other volunteers.
Putin made the announcement during a televised video conference call with government ministers, saying: “This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered,” adding that his daughter was among those to be inoculated.
Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe.
“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.
He said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.
Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.
Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.
Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines will not compromise safety.
But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine.
Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine’s approval, a source told Reuters.
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.