Putin Says Russian Covid-19 Vaccine Ready To Go January 1, 2021, Though Phase III Just Beginning
The Russians apparently have won the race for the first approval of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the country registered its vaccine and that after passing phase trials for emergency use it will be made available by January 1, 2021 for regular patients if all goes well in final tests.
“It works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the necessary checks,” Putin said.
The vaccine will not be mandatory. Putin named it Sputnik V, an appropriately named drug seeing how the original Sputnik was the name of the rocket that started the space race and put Russians in space before anyone else.
Some skeptics doubt that Russia will be able to role out the vaccine in large quantities by year’s end, and others have said that the phase III trial results need to be looked at closely when completed before they can trust the claims being made by Russian labs. Trials are starting this week and is approved for emergency use only at this time. If phase III fails, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Russian stocks barely moved on the news, but the VanEck Russia (RSX) exchange traded fund was still up 0.9%, beating the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
Russia was the fourth hardest hit country by the new SARS, trailing India, Brazil and the U.S. at No. 1.
The vaccine was made by the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow and is based on an already existing vaccine platform that was approved for fighting Ebola as early as 2015 and another vaccine for MERS.
The Russian Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, said a phased application of the vaccine will begin next year, with vaccination of those working with infected persons to take place sooner. Immunity from two shots of the vaccine lasts up to two years, according to the Health Ministry.
New drugs are approved much faster in Russia than they are in the U.S. Eventually, the Russian drug application will be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and either be allowed here or not.
Russians were accused last month of stealing formulas for coronavirus vaccines. The government roundly denied those accusations.