A Russian health care regulator has become the first in the world to approve a vaccine for the Covid-19, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though the vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials. The vaccine developed by Russia is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Mr. Putin also said that one of his daughters had taken the Sputnik V, 1st Covid-19 vaccine, but the Russian scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase III tests on tens of thousands of volunteers in highly controlled trials, a process seen as the only method of ensuring a vaccine is actually safe and effective.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is based on the adenovirus, a similar technology to the Covid-19 vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino. The state-run Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the prototype several months ago, with specialists criticising the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from Britain, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about Covid-19 vaccine from labs in the West. The World Health Organization maintains a comprehensive list of worldwide vaccine trials. In the latest version of the list, there is no Russian Phase III trial.