Moscow, 11 August 2020 (dpa/MIA) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia is the world’s first country to register a coronavirus vaccine and one of his daughters has been inoculated, according to comments carried by state media.
Vaccines normally take many years to develop and test. Countries around the world have however accelerated their efforts to try and slow the Covid-19 pandemic and allow life to return to normal after lockdowns and social-distancing measures affected billions of people.
Russia said only last week that its vaccine was undergoing the final stage of clinical tests, raising concerns about whether it had been tested widely enough.
“One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing,” Putin said at a meeting with senior officials, state news agency TASS reported.
After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius, Putin said, adding that her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the following day.
“After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high [antibody] count,” Putin said.
Russia has had the world’s fourth highest coronavirus caseload, with about 900,000 recorded cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that vaccines should go through a thorough testing period, including wider phase 3 clinical trials.
“If we are very practical, then we are looking at the middle of 2021 when we will have a vaccine that can be widely deployed,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told dpa in July.
WHO officials have been in close contact with Russian health authorities regarding the potential vaccine, a WHO spokesperson told dpa last week, saying that clinical trials were being conducted in compliance with international standards.
Russia’s vaccine was developed by the state’s Gamaleya Research Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology, which announced two months ago that the vaccine had produced immunity in all test subjects without negative side effects.
The vaccine was initially tested on volunteers from the institute and then soldiers from the Russian military. “There were no side effects or abnormalities” detected among the volunteer soldiers, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement last week.
“The research results clearly showed that all volunteers had a clear immune response resulting from the vaccination,” the Defence Ministry said.