Russia is likely to become the first country in the world to approve a working vaccine for Covid-19 within weeks. However, experts around the globe worry about the safety of the vaccine, believing that the rushed process may prove to be a fatal mistake.
The first approved vaccine is likely from the Gamaleya Institute, located in Moscow. In an interview with CNN, government officials said that they were thinking of formally allowing the vaccine around August 10th should no last minute problems arise.
When the vaccine gets approved, it will first be given out to the healthcare workers who are in the frontlines in the fight against the global pandemic. One Russian official likened the vaccine to the launching of the Sputnik, in which the USSR beat the US in launching a satellite.
While the excitement within the Russian government is palpable, outside experts are much more skeptical about the vaccine. To begin with, neither the institute nor the government have disclosed scientific data. This means that the efficacy or safety of the vaccine can’t be corroborated.
Observers believe that the scientists and institutes are being pressured by the Russian government officials, who are desperate to portray the nation as leading the world in terms of biosecurity and science.
One of the greatest fears over this supposed vaccine is that the human testing period could not have possibly ended in such short timeframe. Globally, more than a dozen vaccines are going through the testing period, but all of them have made it clear there is no set end date.
This Russian vaccine has not yet even completed Stage 2 of the testings according to the CNN. Officials explained that they are expecting to finish the testing by early next week, and conduct the final stage of the testing as the vaccines are handed out to frontline workers.
Russian scientists have justified the quick process by arguing that they have repurposed vaccines that were created for other diseases. However, since that is what many other pharmaceutical companies are doing, it seems unlikely that the testing can happen with such speed only in Russia.
Some have pointed out increased hacking attempts into Western research facilities from Russian hacking groups, arguing that the vaccine development may be related to the cyberattacks. These allegations have no evidence as of now.
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