SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 11 – President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday morning that Russia has registered the world’s first vaccine against coronavirus. He says the vaccine is effective in forming immunity against the deadly pathogen which has spread globally.
This is despite the warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that a coronavirus vaccine will not be available before the end of the year. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies programme, said the first use of a Covid-19 jab cannot be expected until early 2021.
“As far as I know, a vaccine against the coronavirus infection has been registered this morning (in Russia) for the first time in the world,” the Russian president told members of the government. “I thank everyone who worked on the vaccine – it’s a very important moment for the whole world.
Last week, Russia announced that it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one trialled by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development and is about to pass state registration, officials said.
Putin insisted that vaccination in Russia should only be carried out on a voluntary basis, with nobody forced to accept immunization. He also revealed that one of his daughters has already been vaccinated.
With over 700,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic and over 20 million official cases internationally, the entire planet is crying out for a solution to the Covid-19 crisis. It is hoped the Russian vaccine will go into general circulation by January. In the meantime, front-line health workers and the medically vulnerable will be given priority, according to the Health Ministry.
Putin asked Health Minister Mikhail Murashko to provide more detailed information about the plans for immunization. “I know that it works rather effectively, forms a stable immunity, and, I repeat, it passed all the necessary inspections,” the President added.
Putin said that his daughter had a slight temperature after taking part in trials, but that it quickly went away. “One of my daughters got the vaccine. In this sense, she took part in the experiment. After the first vaccination, she had a temperature of 38, the next day – 37 and that was all.”
Russia’s breakthrough has been disputed by authorities in western countries, including US, UK and Canada. The three countries have accused Russia of vaccine theft.
Last month, the three nations alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear, is attacking academic and drug research institutions involved in coronavirus vaccine development. The announcement did not specify which institutions and companies had been targeted or whether any vaccine information had been stolen.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,″ Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary, said in a statement. “While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.”