Health experts give approved Russian vax the stink eye

Aug. 11, 2020

Russia may have claimed victory in the race to approve a coronavirus vaccine, but global health experts are alarmed by the lack of data about the shot.

Despite the fact that Russia has yet to conduct a late-stage large-scale trial of the vaccine, President Vladimir Putin deemed it safe and effective, and said it has even been given to his daughter. The country’s health minister approved the vaccine this week, which was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, and has passed through early human and animal trials. 

Global health observers have been quick to express criticism of the approval. One expert at University College London’s Genetics Institute told Reuters that mass vaccination with a shot that has not been properly vetted is “unethical.” Another expert who has worked on trials for CureVac’s candidate said the approval is “reckless.” 

One of the largest concerns among health experts is that if the vaccine is proven to be ineffective, it could create widespread concerns about the safety and efficacy of other vaccine candidates still in development.

Russia says it has already received orders from 20 countries for 1 billion doses of the shot and is moving ahead with plans to manufacture it at facilities in Brazil, India, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.