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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has claimed that his country has produced a working coronavirus vaccine. However, President Putin has faced much scepticism from the international community on the validity of his claims. While speaking to LBC, Professor Beate Kampmann, Director of the Vaccine Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine questioned the science, ethics and safety ramifications behind the announcement.
Ms Kampmann said: “The announcement today appears to be driven by politics rather than science.
“Having a vaccine tested in the early phases on a total of 38 volunteers, not randomised or placebo-controlled, that is not the international standard to get a vaccine.”
Ms Kampmann admitted that the vaccine may prove to be successful but noted that Vladimir Putin is setting a dangerous precedent with his move.
She continued: “It might be a brilliant vaccine in the end.
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“But unless it is tested for safety and efficacy, according to those kinds of standards of the data shared we are not in any position to assess whether it can make any kind of contribution to the pandemic.”
The LBC host questioned whether Russia would be allowing vaccine standards to slip to ensure they were quick to develop a vaccine.
The medical expert admitted she was not aware of whether Russia had cut corners but insisted Russia was not behaving in line with international standards.
She said: “The value of the standards can be discussed but it is certainly not the international standard of proceeding.
“You would have to have a lot more safety data before you would give this vaccine to any group of people outside of a clinical trial.
“This is what Russia seem to be suggesting for October.
“There are also reports that various politicians have already given it to their children.
“That is not only scientifically unsound it is also ethically questionable.”
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Russia’s coronavirus programme saw it miss out the third phase of testing according to early reports, which is when scientists subject the vaccine to large-scale safety trials.
In the west, where vaccine and drug development follows strictly mapped pathways, the third phase should take months.
The Oxford and Imperial College vaccines have yet to make it through the phase, and they don’t expect to until early next year.
The World Health Organization has not received enough information on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate it, the assistant director of its regional branch, the Pan American Health Organization, Jarbas Barbosa, said on Tuesday.
Asked about plans to produce the potential vaccine in Brazil, Barbosa said that should not be done until Phase 2 and 3 trials are completed to guarantee its safety and effectiveness.
“Any vaccine producer has to follow this procedure that guarantees it is safe and has the WHO’s recommendation,” he said in a virtual briefing from Washington.
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