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Russia targets to launch first coronavirus vaccine next month: Report

  • Russian university research head said there are hopes that 'a small amount' of the vaccine would be available to people in the middle of August, according to a report
  • The head of the research institute also added that the vaccine would not be available in pharmacies in the near future

Amid reports of world's first Covid-19 vaccine from Russia pouring in since the last few days, Russian scientists said they are eyeing to launch the vaccine by mid-August, according to a report.

According to Director of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute, Alexander Gintsburg, there are hopes that "a small amount" of the vaccine would be available to people in the middle of August, and private companies would start producing vaccines in the beginning or the middle of September, as reported by Sputnik News.

The head of the research institute added that the vaccine would not be available in pharmacies in the near future.

However, the report also citied Mikhail Schelkanov, the head of the microbe ecology lab at the School of Biomedicine of Russia's Far Eastern Federal University emphasising on the fact that forecasting a definite time frame is still premature.

Apart from that, the Indian Medical Research Institute's director general Balram Bhargava today acknowledged, "Russia has fast tracked a vaccine which has been successful in its early phases. They have fast tracked its development. China has also fast tracked its vaccine programme and has also expedited its studies with that vaccine in the country."

Earlier on Sunday, Russia's Sechenov University announced that it had successfully completed clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine, developed by Russia's Defense Ministry's Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. Alexander Lukashev, the director of Sechenov's Institute of Medical Parasitology, Tropical and Vector-Borne Diseases, told Sputnik that the trials had established the vaccine's safety on human health, adding that the first group of volunteers would be discharged on 15 July and the second on 20 July.

"This was only the first stage of trials — to test [the vaccine's] safety on human health. One has to understand that it is far from being the end of trials, those will continue. But it was encouraging and made it clear that Russia has the necessary technological potential," Schelkanov said.

"The soonest we will launch the industrial production is in the fall, only if all phases of trials go perfectly well. But making forecasts is inappropriate. In biotechnology, it is a rare phenomenon for everything to go perfectly," Schelkanov said.

Moreover, the Russian Defence Ministry stressed that tests of the vaccine against coronavirus are being conducted in full compliance with methodological regulations, with no attempts to reduce the duration of the research.

"The Russian Defence Ministry tests the vaccine on volunteers in full compliance with the acting legislation and scientific methodological regulations, in order to prevent further risks, without any attempt to reduce the duration of the research", the ministry said in a statement, as reported by Sputnik.

According to the World Health Organization's protocols, a vaccine has to go through three phases of studies to be approved for large-scale production.

Covid-19 human trials go as follows: Phase 1 isnormally involves small-scale studies to determine a candidate vaccine's clinical tolerance and safety. Phase 2 then includes a larger number of subjects, with a focus on determining the optimal dose, intervals between doses and the minimum necessary number of doses of a candidate vaccine in a target population. Phase 3 trials are the largest in terms of number of subjects. A candidate vaccine is ready to move into industrial production if the last phase provides clear and definitive evidence of its safety and efficacy.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus cases in the world has surpassed 13 million infections and killed over 500,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data. While over 7.7 million virus-infected people have recovered so far, scientists and other healthcare systems worldwide are trying to upgrade production and development of a potential Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

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