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.
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.
Russia reported 7,933 new cases on Friday, raising its total to 114,431. The true number is believed to be higher because not everyone is tested and Russian tests are reported to be only 70 per cent to 80 per cent accurate.
The mortality rate has slowed in recent days however, and remains much lower, in relative terms, than many other countries. The nationwide death toll rose to 1,280 after 58 people died in the last 24 hours, Russia's coronavirus crisis response centre said.
At least 40 people were dead and scores were missing after deadly landslides triggered by heavy rain from the typhoon
Some students sympathetic to Thai protesters said on Friday they were boycotting graduation ceremonies led by King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a show of anger at the monarchy amid growing calls to reform it.
The police have asked parents to pay attention to their children when they approach windows and balconies.