Russia stunned the world when it announced on Tuesday that it has given statutory approval for the public use of coronavirus vaccine. Experts have been startled since the announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Tuesday said that there was a need to assess the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia if it is successful.
“If Russia’s vaccine is successful, then we will have to see critically whether it is safe and effective. There should not be any side effects of the vaccine and it should provide good immunity and protection. India has the capacity for mass production of vaccine,” Dr Guleria said.
Putin said yesterday that the vaccine offers “sustainable immunity” against Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. He also said that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation and felt good afterwards.
The vaccine, which will be called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has however not yet completed its final trials.
Some scientists fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
“Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, Germany, currently testing CureVac’s Covid-19 vaccine in clinical trials.
“In that respect, I think it’s reckless to do that (approve it) if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”
Top US infectious disease official Dr Anthony Fauci said he had not heard any evidence that the vaccine was ready for widespread use.
“I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they’ve done that,” Fauci said.
Government officials have said it will be administered to medical personnel, and then to teachers, on a voluntary basis at the end of this month or in early September. Mass roll-out in Russia is expected to start in October.
The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two serotypes of a human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response.