Coronavirus vaccine in Russia ‘less of a vaccine and more of a Molotov cocktail’

The latest contender in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine has been branded a "molotov cocktail" by one expert.

On Tuesday, Russia became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccination – developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute.

President Vladimir Putin announced the breakthrough, dubbed Sputnik V, after less than two months of human trials, saying it would be available to the public in the coming months.

He said: "I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests. The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency."

Despite Putin's assurances the drug has gone through all necessary safety tests and even been tested on his daughter, some health experts are uncomfortable with the speed at which it is being pushed through.

Speaking to Euronews, the former associate commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Peter Pitts remained skeptical.

He said: "There's no data, there's no transparency, there's no FDA in Russia [and] they've got a history of approving drugs and vaccines with little or no testing.

"It's less of a vaccine and more of a Molotov cocktail at this point, which is exactly what we don't need in the global battle against Covid-19".

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The fears have been echoed elsewhere. Scientists have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials – which normally last for months and involve thousands of people – could backfire.

Responding to the announcement yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) underlined the "rigorous procedures" required for licensing a vaccine.

WHO also claims to have seen "nothing official" to back up Russia's research claims. More than 150 vaccines are being developed and tested around the world to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, with 28 in human clinical trials.

Mr Pitts says the world must keep working on other vaccines till one gets the green light.

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He said: "We can't allow this hype to take our eye off the prize, which is a solid, high-quality, well-vetted, and well-regulated vaccine."

"Shame on us if we allow this announcement to slow down for one moment the development of a solid, science-based vaccine".

Vaccines that are not properly tested can cause harm in many ways – from a negative impact on health to creating a false sense of security or undermining trust in vaccinations.

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