Russian President Vladimir Putin says one of his daughters has been inoculated with the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute as he declares it ready for use despite international scepticism.

This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
This handout picture taken on August 6, 2020 and provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund shows the vaccine against the coronavirus disease, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. (AFP)

Russia has become the first country to clear a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international scepticism. 

President Vladimir Putin has said the vaccine offers "sustainable immunity"  and emphasised that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests.

Putin has pushed hard for Russia to be the first to announce a vaccine, with officials dubbing it "Sputnik V" after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space.

"This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered" in Russia, said Putin, during a televised video conference call with government ministers.

The Russian leader added that one of his two adult daughters has received two shots of the vaccine. “She has taken part in the experiment,” Putin said.

Russia said 20 countries have pre-ordered a billion doses of vaccine, and industrial production will start in September.

Scepticism 

However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire.

WHO

The World Health Organization said it has not received enough information on the Russian vaccine to evaluate it. 

Asked about plans to produce the potential vaccine in Brazil, the assistant director of WHO's regional branch, the Pan American Health Organization, Jarbas Barbosa, said that should not be done until Phase 2 and 3 trials are completed to guarantee its safety and effectiveness.

"Any vaccine producer has to follow this procedure that guarantees it is safe and has the WHO's recommendation," he said in a virtual briefing from Washington.

Germany

Germany also raised doubts over the quality and safety of Russia's coronavirus vaccine, stressing that drug approval is granted in the European Union only after full clinical trials.

"Patient safety is of the highest priority," a health ministry spokeswoman told German newspaper network RND. "There is no known data on the quality, efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine."

Concerns within

Within Russia itself, scientists sounded an alarm, saying that rushing to offer the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve tens of thousands of people — could backfire.

“Fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the (vaccine) race, it will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations said Monday.

The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilisation of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.

READ MORE: A Covid-19 vaccine by September? Oxford researchers optimistic

Others however, received the news differently. 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia's efforts and stated he is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge.

"I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said on television late on Monday.

Putin said his daughter had a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) on the day of the first vaccine injection, and then it dropped to just over 37 degrees (98.6 Fahrenheit) on the following day. After the second shot, she again had a slight increase in temperature, but then it was all over.

“She's feeling well and has high number of antibodies,” Putin added. He didn't specify which of his two daughters — Maria or Katerina — received the vaccine.

The Health Ministry said in Tuesday’s statement that the vaccine is expected to provide immunity from the coronavirus for up to two years.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies