Russia is hoping to be the first country to make a breakthrough in the global search for a vaccine for the treatment of the coronavirus as it aims at having approval for a vaccine in the next two weeks.
Russian officials told CNN they are working toward a date of August 10 or earlier for approval of the vaccine, which has been created by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute.
It will be approved for public use, with frontline healthcare workers getting it first, they said.
“It’s a Sputnik moment,” said Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is financing Russian vaccine research, referring to the successful 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite by the Soviet Union.
“Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping. It’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first,” he added.
But Russia has released no scientific data on its vaccine testing and CNN is unable to verify its claimed safety or effectiveness. Critics say the country’s push for a vaccine comes amid political pressure from the Kremlin, which is keen to portray Russia as a global scientific force.
There are also wide concerns the human testing of the vaccine is incomplete.
Dozens of vaccine trials are underway around the world and a small number are in large-scale efficacy trials, but most developers have cautioned that much work remains before their vaccines can be approved.
While some global vaccines are in the third phase of trials, the Russian vaccine is yet to complete its second phase. Developers plan to complete that phase by August 3, and then conduct the third phase of testing in parallel with the vaccination of the medical workers.
Russians scientists say the vaccine has been quick to develop because it is a modified version of one already created to fight against other diseases. That’s the approach being taken in many other countries and by other companies.