Coronavirus vaccine update: Russia begins production of second COVID-19 vaccine despite pending Phase 3 trials
However, scientists and pharmaceutical companies opined more testing is necessary to prove safety and efficacy of such vaccines before use
October 28, 2020 / 12:12 PM IST
3 | FM Nirmala Sitharaman announces Rs 900 crore grant for COVID-19 vaccine research: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Thursday announced a Rs 900 crore grant to the Department of Biotechnology for COVID-19 vaccine research. "We are providing Rs 900 crore for research and development of COVID-19 vaccine. This is being provided for covid suraksha mission, purely for R&D but this money goes to Department of Biotechnology for research purposes," she said. Sitharaman said the grant does not cover the actual cost of vaccine and distribution expenses, which will be made separately as and when the vaccine is available.
Russia has started mass production of its second COVID-19 vaccine developed by Vector State Virology and Biotechnology Centre in Novosibirsk, despite the candidate not completing Phase 3 trials.
Anna Popova, the head of Russia’s public-health watchdog on October 27 said that output of the vaccine will be ramped up by 2020-end, Bloomberg reported. Vector State Virology and Biotechnology Center is a former biological weapons lab.
President Vladimir Putin announced approval of the vaccine on October 14. Authorities are hoping the candidate vaccines will help stall trajectory of the pandemic with minimum economic impact, the report noted.
Follow our LIVE Updates on the coronavirus pandemic here
However, scientists and pharmaceutical companies opined more testing is necessary to prove safety and efficacy of such vaccines before use. This is the second time Russia has been accused of bypassing standard protocols after it launched widespread vaccination drive using Sputnik V in August side-by-side its Phase 3 trials.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which was also among the developers of Sputnik V, said it has submitted an application to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use and prequalification for the vaccine – a move meant to allay naysayers.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said first doses of the vaccine will be given to front-line workers and mass vaccinations will begin by December 2020 or January 2021.
Further, the country is looking to register a third vaccine developed by the Chumakov Federal Scientific Center in Moscow by December.
“Each vaccine will have its own target audience. We have the ability to produce a significant amount of vaccine without burdening a single production site,” Popova said.
With 1,537,142 cases, Russia has registered the fourth most positive cases in the world – deaths number at 26,409, as per the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here