MOSCOW • President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.
The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continues.
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that the country may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.
Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Mr Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.
"I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks," he said.
He added that he hoped the country would soon start mass-producing the vaccine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Russian health authorities are discussing the process for possible WHO pre-qualification for the vaccine, a WHO spokesman said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte accepted Russia's offer of its coronavirus vaccine, volunteering to take the first shot as a gesture of trust and gratitude.
"When the vaccine arrives, I will have myself injected in public. Experiment on me first, that's fine with me," he said in a briefing on Monday night.
Mr Duterte added that Manila can assist Moscow in clinical trials and local production.
In Indonesia, China's Sinovac Biotech launched a late-stage human trial yesterday that will involve as many as 1,620 patients for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate that it is developing with Indonesian state-owned peer Bio Farma.
Separately, Sinovac released details on Monday from a mid-stage, or Phase II, study in which it said the vaccine candidate appeared to be safe and induced detectable antibody-based immune responses in subjects.
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that the country may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety...
Mr Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.
The candidate - known as CoronaVac - is among a few potential vaccines that have entered late-stage trials for a large-scale study to gather proof of efficacy for regulatory approval.
"The threat of Covid-19 will not subside until a vaccine is given to all the people," said Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a ceremony to launch the trial in Bandung, West Java.
"Hopefully in January, we can produce (the vaccine) and vaccinate everyone in the country."