Russian President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated. Reportedly, she had a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) on the day of the first vaccine injection. The President said that after taking the vaccine, his daughter’s temperature dropped to just over 37 degrees (98.6 Fahrenheit) on the following day, then increased slightly after the second shot before being completely normal.
He even stressed that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient. “I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity. I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” he said. “The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency.”
According to Russian authorities, the vaccine offers a lasting immunity from the coronavirus and is safe. They will be vaccinating medical workers, teachers, and other risk groups in August. Large-scale production of the vaccine will then start in September, and mass vaccination is likely to begin in October, according to officials.
Skepticism against the Russian vaccine
Curiously, the vaccination in Russia will start even as the Phase 3 trials still continue. Initially, there will be only enough doses to carry out vaccination in 10-15 of Russia’s 85 regions, according to the Interfax news agency. Many scientists, both in Russia and abroad, have raised concerns over the safety of this vaccine saying that since the vaccine is being launched before Phase 3 trials, which normally last for months and involve thousands of people, it can backfire.
Human studies for the Sputnik V vaccine started on June 17 this year among 76 volunteers. Half of the people were given the vaccine in liquid form while the other half were provided with a vaccine that came as soluble powder. Military volunteers completed Phase 2 trials in July, although the results haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal. When the trials were declared completed, questions were immediately raised about the efficiency and safety of the vaccine.
Many experts are not convinced by Russian authorities' claims that the vaccine drug produces the appropriate immune response and causes no notable side effects. The World Health Organization, too, has declared that all vaccine candidates should go through full stages of testing before being launched officially.
“Why are all corporations following the rules, but Russian ones aren’t? The rules for conducting clinical trials are written in blood. They can’t be violated,” Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO) Executive Director Svetlana Zavidova says. “This is a Pandora’s Box and we don’t know what will happen to people injected with an unproven vaccine.”
But the Russian authorities are confident of their product and deny that the possibility that the vaccine is risky. "I can tell you, from the first and second phase we have a hundred percent of people developing immunity after day 21. It doubles after the second shot. Hundred percent of animals were also protected (against the novel coronavirus)," said Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that funded the country’s vaccination effort.
According to Sputnik News, the vaccine used inanimate particles created on the basis of adenovirus. Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya National Research Center, says that there are no concerns that the vaccine could potentially cause harm to a person's health.
The Russian COVID-19 Vaccine – Let’s Wait and Watch
We will know soon enough if the Sputnik V vaccine is actually as successful as is being claimed. Dmitriev, meanwhile, has claimed that Russia has received preliminary applications for more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine from 20 countries. Furthermore, they are geared up to manufacture more than 500 million doses of the vaccine per year in five countries.
Skepticism against the vaccine is genuine and it would be better to not start celebrating just yet. Vaccines that are not properly tested can be harmful in many ways. It can cause a negative impact on health and even create distrust in future vaccinations as well.
We will now have to wait and see if this new vaccine can produce the desired results. For the sake of humanity, let’s hope the Sputnik V vaccine works and manages to help the world get rid of the coronavirus threat.
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