“This is a Sputnik moment,” said Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian sovereign wealth fund, which funds Russian vaccine research, referring to the successful launch in 1957 of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union.
“Americans were surprised to hear Sputnik’s beep. It’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will be the first there, ”he added.
But Russia has not released any scientific data on its vaccine tests, and CNN is unable to verify its safety or effectiveness. Critics say the country’s push for a vaccine comes amid political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray Russia as a global scientific force. There are also great concerns that human testing of the vaccine is incomplete.
Russian scientists say the vaccine was quick to develop because it is a modified version of a vaccine already created to fight other diseases. The Russian Defense Ministry claims that Russian soldiers have served as volunteers in human trials.
In recorded comments provided to CNN, Alexander Ginsburg, the project director says he has already injected the vaccine.
Russian officials say registration of the drug is being accelerated due to the global pandemic and the severe coronavirus problem in Russia. Russia now has more than 800,000 confirmed cases.
“Our scientists have focused not on being the first but on protecting people,” said Dmitriev, whose government fund helps finance Russia’s immunization program.
“Russia has strengthened its leadership position in vaccine development and its proven Ebola and MERS vaccine platform to provide the first safe and effective solution to the world’s biggest problem,” he told CNN previously.
The World Health Organization says there is no approved vaccine for MERS.
This story first appeared on CNN.com, “Russia Says It Will Approve World’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Soon, But Big Questions Remain”