Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Tuesday that Russian scientists achieved a breakthrough in the global vaccine race, announcing that the country has become the first to approve an experimental COVID-19 vaccine and that his own daughter has already taken a dose.
Officials have pledged to vaccinate millions of people, including teachers and front-line health-care workers this month — before even finishing clinical trials — with the formula developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow.
But Russia’s hard charge toward a potential vaccine has raised alarm among global health experts that the country is jumping dangerously ahead of critical, large-scale testing that is essential to determine if a possible covid-19 protection is safe and effective. Few details of the Gamaleya research have been made public or underwent peer review.
Russia’s Health Ministry did not respond to requests for comment, and the Gamaleya Institute referred an interview request to the ministry.
The vaccine is named Sputnik V, a reference to the first orbital satellite, which was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 and set off the global space race. The name also evoked how Putin’s government has seen the vaccine race as a point of national pride and competition on a global scale, with labs in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere are also in the hunt for a potential vaccine.
“Of course, what counts most is for us to be able to ensure the unconditional safety of the use of this vaccine and its efficiency in the future. I hope that this will be accomplished,” Putin said at a meeting with government members Tuesday, adding that one of his two daughters had received the potential Gamaleya vaccine. He didn’t identify which daughter. (WashingtonPost)