Russia faces vaccine claims as nations resume virus war


Russia said on Tuesday it had developed the world's first vaccine against the coronavirus, giving it a stable immunity. Despite doubts about its impact as fears about a second infection are growing around the world.

Russia faces vaccine claims as nations resume virus war


President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his daughters had been vaccinated’ with what became known as "Sputnik" after the Soviet satellite in the 1950s.

Putin said of the vaccines developed by the Gamalaya Research Institute in coordination with the Moscow Ministry of Defense, "I know that it is very effective and that it provides a stable immunity.

Russia's Ministry of Health has announced that the final phase of the trial, which will involve more than 2,000 people, will begin on Wednesday.

Western scientists have previously expressed concern about the speed of development of Russian vaccines and researchers say they are cutting corners.

Tariq Zazarevich, of the World Health Organization in Geneva, said he was in touch with Russian health officials, but it was too early to seal WHO approval.

“The pre-eligibility of any vaccine will include rigorous review and evaluation of all necessary safety and efficacy data,” he said.

In Berlin, a spokesman for the German Ministry of Health told the newspaper group RND that "no information is available on the quality, effectiveness and safety of the Russian vaccine" and that "patient safety is a priority".

- A billion doses -

Russia hopes to start production in September and start vaccinating medical personnel soon.

Kirill Dimitriev, head of the Russian Sovereign Asset Fund, which helped develop the vaccine, said the suspicions about the vaccine was part of a "coordinated and carefully planned media the attack" designed to "humiliate" the country.

He said 20 foreign countries had pre-ordered one billion doses.

The bet for the vaccine is heating up a new outbreak of the disease in new countries around the world - even though they have been trying to restart the lockdown and economic collapse for months.

Indonesia has announced that the third phase of the human trial on a vaccine candidate from China's Genovak Biotech has begun.

Phase 3 refers to experiments involving a large number of human test subjects, which is usually the last step before regulatory approval.

Sinovac's vaccine, also known as coronavac, is already being tested’ on 9,000 Brazilian health workers.

The World Health Organization says 165 candidates are working on vaccines worldwide, with six reaching the third stage.

But Michael Ryan, director of emergencies, warned that the discovery of the vaccine would not automatically stop COVID-19.

"We have the most effective polio and measles vaccines and we are still working hard to eradicate those diseases. You need to be able to provide that vaccine to people who want and want that vaccine," he said.

- Second wave 'inevitable' -

Since the virus first appeared in China late last year, the number of confirmed infections worldwide has crossed 20.1 million, killing 737,000 people and in more than 750,000 in just a few days, according to AFP figures.

New Zealand lasted more than 100 days on Tuesday without locally transmitted coronavirus infections.

"We have worked hard to prevent this from happening," said Prime Minister Jakinda Ardern. "We planned and prepared for it."

Only 22 deaths from the coronavirus have been reported’ in New Zealand so far, with officials repeatedly warning that a second wave is inevitable.

Bhutan, a remote Himalayan country, announced a coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday.

In Europe, the European Union's ECDC the health agency has called on countries to re-establish some sanctions as new cases begin to reopen.

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