Russian health officials say a potential coronavirus vaccine has completed clinical trials in a Moscow lab and there could be mass vaccinations by October.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the state research center Gamaleya Institute was one step closer to registering the vaccine, according to the Interfax news agency.
AN EXPERIMENTAL RUSSIAN ELITE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE FOR MONTHS: REPORT
Murashko said that once approved, the vaccine would be available first to health workers and then teachers.
Russia’s first potential vaccine would gain local regulatory approval in August, a source told Reuters.
But the rapid pace of production of the adenovirus vaccine – coming just five months after COVID-19 became widespread in Russia – has given Western experts pause, who are questioning the adequacy of testing for the drug.
The vaccine is essentially a common cold virus fused with the SARS CoV-2 spike protein to elicit an immune response.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease specialist in the United States, said he hoped Russia, China and other international competitors in the running for a vaccine “actually tested the vaccine” before giving them to anyone.
Fauci predicts that the United States will have a “safe and effective” vaccine by the end of the year.
“I don’t believe there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines,” he told lawmakers at a congressional hearing earlier this week .
Fauci’s comments follow reports that hundreds of Russian businesses and political elites have received injections of the Gamaleya vaccine since April.
At least four potential vaccines are in the final phase III human development trials, including three developed in China and one in Britain, according to data from the World Health Organization.
The new vaccine developments come weeks after security officials in the US, UK and Canada said Russian hackers were responsible for a cyber attack aimed at stealing information about potential vaccines other countries.
Meanwhile, coronavirus deaths in Russia continue to climb, with the country reporting 95 deaths on Saturday.
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Authorities reported 5,462 new cases, bringing the national total to 845,443. A total of 14,058 people have died from the virus in Russia.