Russia has announced plans to roll out its vaccine against COVID-19 in October.
The country’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, was quoted as saying that doctors and teachers would be the first to receive the vaccine, while Reuters, citing anonymous sources, said the vaccine would be approved by regulators this month.
The Interfax news agency quotes Murashko as saying that the Gamaleya Institute, a research facility in Moscow, had finished clinical trials of a vaccine and that paperwork was being prepared to register it.
“We plan wider vaccinations for October,” he said, adding that teachers and doctors would be the first to receive it.
Infectious disease experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, US director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , have however expressed concern at Russia’s fast-track approach.
On Friday, Fauci, said he hoped that Russia – and China – were “actually testing the vaccine” before administering them to anyone.
Last month, Russian scientists said that early-stage trials of an adenovirus-based vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute had been completed and that the results were a success.
In the same month, the UK, US and Canada security services accused a Russian hacking group of spying on various organisations involved in Covid-19 vaccine development, with the likely intention of stealing information. But Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, described the allegation as senseless.
Scores of possible coronavirus vaccines are being developed around the world and more than 20 are currently in clinical trials.
According to Dr Fauci, the US should have a “safe and effective” vaccine by the end of this year.
“I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines,” he told US lawmakers.
In the UK, trials of a vaccine developed by Oxford University have shown that it can trigger an immune response and a deal has been signed with AstraZeneca to supply 100 million doses in Britain alone.