An employee shows a new vaccine in Moscow, Russia. AP
Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, citing the 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 said they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Friday that McKesson Corp would be the central distributor for future coronavirus vaccines, sending the US drug distributor's shares up more than 3%.
A new vaccine is on display in Moscow, Russia. AP
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is executing an existing contract option with McKesson to support vaccine distribution, the health department said.
The HHS said the contract, which includes an option to distribute vaccines in the event of a pandemic, was awarded to McKesson as part of a competitive bidding process in 2016.
Detailed planning is underway to ensure rapid distribution as soon as the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one or more vaccines, the HHS said.
McKesson is the largest distributor of seasonal flu vaccines in the United States.
The US has no approved vaccine for the new coronavirus pandemic, and drugmakers including AstraZeneca, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson are testing their experimental vaccines under accelerated timelines.Reuters
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
The development of a coronavirus vaccine or treatment will be key to allowing the postponed Tokyo 2020 games to open in a year's time, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said Wednesday.
More than 3.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 250,386 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
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