Russia raised eyebrows on Tuesday when it announced the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine for public use.
President Vladimir Putin says his own daughter has already received it, but testing is yet to be completed and experts are skeptical about how quickly the vaccine has been registered.
Here’s a summary of what we know — and don’t know — so far.
Is the Russian vaccine safe and effective?
The short answer is that we don’t know. Russia has released no scientific data on its vaccine testing and CNN is unable to verify claims about its safety or effectiveness. But Russia says the vaccine has passed through Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials which were completed on August 1.
A Phase 3 trial on more than 2,000 people only began today. Typically Phase 3 trials are conducted on tens of thousands of people.
We do not have any information whatsoever on whether this is safe,” Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, told CNN.
How did Russia pull this off so quickly?
In April, Russia enacted a law which eliminated the need for a Phase 3 vaccine trial before approval.
Approval now means the coronavirus vaccine can be distributed even as Phase 3 tests get underway — though practically speaking, mass-manufactured doses aren’t expected to be ready for weeks.
“They’re not as far ahead as other vaccines,” Neal said, noting that Moderna and Oxford’s vaccines have already begun Phase 3 trials. Critics say Russia’s haste is partly due to political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray the country as a global scientific force.
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