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Russia's coronavirus vaccine announced – but not yet released, writes BEN SPENCER


Russia's coronavirus vaccine announced by Vladimir Putin is secret – but don't fire it yet, writes BEN SPENCER

Russia's claims of developing the world's first coronavirus vaccine should not be easily dismissed.

The country has a proud history of scientific achievement – it sent the first man into space and led the world in engineering, math, and physics for decades.

It also has a strong track record of making reliable vaccines – especially for Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new sting, the Gamaleya Research Institute, is a long-established and well-known research center.

However, it is difficult to assess the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine as very little information has been provided.

The teams behind experimental Covid vaccines in Oxford, the United States and China have published detailed results of their studies at each stage.

However, the Russian team gave little away.

Russia has a strong track record of making reliable vaccines – especially against Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new sting, the Gamaleya Research Institute (a staff member who works with a coronavirus vaccine at the institute pictured), is long established and well-known research center

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) photo shows a researcher working in a laboratory at the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 6, 2020, when Russia claims to have developed a Covid-19 vaccine

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) photo shows a researcher working in a laboratory at the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, on Aug. 6, 2020, when Russia claims to have developed a Covid-19 vaccine

The few details suggest it is an adenovirus vector vaccine – a type similar to that used at Oxford and elsewhere.

These contain a weakened version of the cold virus that has been genetically engineered to trigger the production of immune cells – antibodies and T cells.

Initial results from China and Oxford suggest that this is a reasonable approach – it will likely produce an immune response with few side effects – but so far the Russian shock has only been tested on 38 people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured) has claimed that Russia developed a vaccine and that his daughter was given it

Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured) has claimed that Russia developed a vaccine and that his daughter was given it

Pictured: Vladimir Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova, who he claims received the vaccine

Pictured: Vladimir Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova, who he claims received the vaccine

A properly conducted, randomized, controlled trial involving hundreds, if not thousands of people is critical to proving that it is safe and that it works.

Without taking this step into a mass vaccination program, it would be foolhardy and dangerous.

If patients are injured by the sting before passing further tests, it undermines the already fragile confidence in vaccines.

The good news is that it would be a relatively quick process for Russia to prove the vaccine's effectiveness.

The Oxford University team is unlikely to come up with a definitive result anytime soon as the incidence of Covid-19 has decreased.

Despite a study of 10,000 Brits, they had to test their thrust in Brazil instead.

Russia still has high rates of coronavirus infection, and scientists estimate it would only be two months before they can demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and effective.

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