In this handout photo shows a new vaccine is on display at the Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia. File/AP
The World Health Organization’s Europe office said it has begun discussions with Russia to try to obtain more information about the experimental COVID-19 vaccine the country recently approved.
Last week, Russia became the first country in the world to license a coronavirus vaccine when President Vladimir Putin announced its approval. But the vaccine has not yet passed the advanced trials normally required to prove it works before being licensed, a major breach of scientific protocol. Russian officials claimed the vaccine would provide lasting immunity to COVID-19 but offered no proof.
Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency official at WHO Europe said the agency had begun "direct discussions” with Russia and that WHO officials have been sharing "the various steps and information that’s going to be required for WHO to take assessments.”
WHO’s Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge said the agency welcomed all advances in vaccine development but that every vaccine must submit to the same clinical trials.
Russia’s vaccine has so far only been tested in a few dozen people.
Kluge noted that Russia has a long history of developing and administering vaccines, including those for yellow fever and polio.
"This concern that we have around safety and efficacy is not specifically for the Russia vaccine, it’s for all of the vaccines under development,” said Smallwood. She acknowledged WHO was taking an "accelerated approach” to try to speed development of coronavirus vaccines but said "it’s essential we don’t cut corners in safety or efficacy.”
"We’re not going through a rushed job of trying to jump to conclusions here,” Smallwood said. "We want to take our time to really understand where the vaccine’s at and to get as full information as possible on the steps that have already been taken.”
Scientists say advanced trials testing an experimental vaccine in tens of thousands of people is the only way to determine whether or not it works. Two other potential COVID-19 vaccine candidates have already started such studies in the U.S. and elsewhere, and will require about 30,000 people to receive the immunization and be tracked afterward.
Russian officials said doctors might start getting vaccinated with their experimental shot this month and that mass campaigns could begin in October.Associated Press
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.
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 World Health Organization said any WHO stamp of approval on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data review, after Russia announced Tuesday it had approved a vaccine.
The Russian fund that bankrolled Sputnik V and markets it abroad has previously negotiated Sputnik V production deals with manufacturers in several countries, including India, South Korea, Brazil, China, Turkey, apart from Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Crossing, and is the largest medical support of its kind provided by the UAE to Gaza since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Dr. Khalid Omar Al Midfa discussed challenges of the media industry with attendees at the meeting, exploring ways to expand the sector’s role in the UAE’s development.
Fuelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, infections exploded during the past four weeks, with around two million cases recorded.
Thick fog continued to form for the second day in a row across various parts in the country on Thursday. The fog lasted for 12 hours and a half in several areas of the country on Thursday, as it started at exactly 10 pm and continued until 10:30am, because of the country being affected by surface high-pressure systems, accompanied with a ridge of upper air high pressure, according to the National Centre for Meteorology (NCM).