Russia is prematurely declaring victory in the race for a vaccine against Covid-19, with potentially dangerous consequences for the Russian population.
President Vladimir Putin says his government has approved a vaccine and will start inoculating teachers and medical workers this month, before embarking on a mass vaccination effort in the fall. Yet the shot is not backed by evidence from a complete phase 3 trial, the gold standard for confirming safety and efficacy. Deciding to move ahead without this proof stands to hamper rather than help Russia’s Covid-19 response.
“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Putin said at a cabinet meeting Tuesday. What little we know about Russia’s vaccine effort suggests he has limited ground for these claims; the vaccine has reportedly completed only early-stage trials, and data hasn’t been made available for independent scientific review. According to Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations, fewer than 100 people had received the vaccine as of early August. [Continue reading…]