Russia revealed its plans to give a green light to one coronavirus vaccine after only 2 months of testing on human subjects on Tuesday. This has since shaken health experts globally with reasonable alarm because it is common knowledge among health experts that without complete trial data, a vaccine is not safe to use.
To win the worldwide race to make an effective coronavirus vaccine, Russia is rushing its vaccine development. It has however yet to carry out mass-scale trials for the vaccine shots that would develop enough data for researchers to know whether or not the vaccine works or not. Experts on Infectious diseases and immunologists think this is a dangerous step to take.
Ayfer Ali is a specialist in drug research at Britain’s Warwick Business School. She says Russia is practically carrying out a large experiment on the masses by continuing with this decision.
She points out how such a fast decision on the vaccine front could mean possible side effects of the vaccine may go unnoticed since proper testing did not take place. While such adverse effects from vaccines are rare to occur, if they do however they could be seriously dangerous.
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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says the vaccine which is developed by the Institute of Moscow’s Gamaleya is trustworthy and that his daughters received a shot of the vaccine.
Putin said on state television that the vaccine is successful, can encourage sufficient immunity, and has been through all the checks needed for it to be distributed.
Francois Balloux is an expert at University College London’s Genetics Institute, says it sounds like a dangerous and unwise decision.
He reminds people that vaccinating masses without prior testing is not only dangerous but also unethical. If any problem occurs with the vaccine made by Russia and people display adverse effects with their health, it would forever change how people see vaccines.
Danny Altmann is a professor of Immunology at Imperial College London. He shared similar sentiments saying if an untested vaccine is used on the masses it could put more problems on an already problem-ridden plate.
While Russia believes it has won the vaccine race, drugmakers that are above half a dozen continue to prepare for large-scale trials on humans for their potential vaccines. They currently have each ten and thousands of participants who have volunteered for testing.
Among these potential vaccine makers is Moderna (MRNA.O), AstraZeneca (AZN.L), and Pfizer (PFE.N). All of these frontrunners believe they will know by December whether or not their vaccines will prove effective.
These vaccine makers are supposed to publish the results from their trials including data to ensure their safety. They are to submit these to regulators in the US, including Europe and other places for prior judgment before they receive their licenses for distribution.
In Russia’s case, the approval from the Health Ministry came before any mass trials took place that normally include thousands of participants; this stage is known as Phase III trials. These said trials are thought to be immensely important indicators for vaccine security for it to receive approvals from regulators.
Experts collectively believe the insufficiency of published data on the vaccine Russia expects to be given to the masses leaves experts and authorities out of the loop to how it’s made and whether or not it is effective against infection.
Kieth Neal is a specialist of epidemiology of infectious diseases at Britain’s Nottingham University. He notes how the lack of scientific papers for analysis regarding the vaccine makes it impossible to know if it is effective at all.
This just goes to show how many potential risks are involved in Russia’s current decision to dole out a coronavirus vaccine without trial into its masses. Without prior testing and vital published data, a vaccine is far from ethical to be released and let alone given to the public.