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Sputnik V: Russia’s newly approved COVID-19 vaccine is causing concern

This week, Russia announced that they’ve approved the world’s first coronavirus vaccine.

However, with less than two months of human trials – and having skipped the largely important phase 3 – the announcement has left many concerned.

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Russia will be the first country in the world to treat their citizens with a COVID-19 vaccine, despite warnings from WHO and less than two months of trials.

Global health experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), are alarmed with Russia’s decision to approve a COVID-19 vaccine that has had less than two months of human testing, with WHO warning the nation against rushing the process. Russia’s vaccine also allegedly skipped phase 3 of clinical trials, which involves testing on over 3,000 participants; a phase which can take years to complete and usually weeds out more than 70% of vaccines.

Speaking on Russia’s lack of comprehensive trial data, Ayfer Ali, a specialist in drug research at Britain’s Warwick Business School, described: “Russia is essentially conducting a large population level experiment.”

Such fast approval could mean that any adverse effects of the vaccine might fly under the radar. And whilst it’s not certain there will be any such effects; if there are, they have the potential to be severe.

During his announcement on Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin revealed that one of his daughters had already taken the vaccine, assuring that it had gone through all required tests and demonstrated continued immunity to the virus. However, there was no evidence provided to back up these claims.

Now the country’s Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, has pushed back against fears that the vaccine is not safe, hinting that other countries are simply jealous.

“It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that in our opinion are completely groundless,” Murashko described.

Russia has said it will continue on with the registration of its vaccine, despite calls to halt the process until all trials are complete.