Why you should be skeptical of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine claims

Why you should be skeptical of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine claims

Why you should be skeptical of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine claims

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his country has registered a coronavirus vaccine and said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated, AP reports.

Why it matters: Scientists around the world are skeptical about Russia’s claims. There is no published scientific data to back up Putin’s claims that Russia has a viable vaccine — or that it produces any sort of immunity without significant side effects.

  • A Russian vaccine has not gone through any phase three trials, which are lengthy and involve thousands of participants for testing.
  • Experts caution that introducing a vaccine to the population without widespread testing could have serious negative consequences, including unexpected side effects or simply undermining public trust in their efficacy.

What he said: “I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” Putin told a news conference.

  • He claimed his daughter is “feeling well and has high number of antibodies.”

The state of play: The vaccine race has become a competition between rival global powers. Getting the first viable coronavirus vaccine would be a boon for Russia’s international prestige, which Putin is desperate to bolster.

  • According to the U.S, U.K. and Canada, hackers linked to Russian military intelligence have attempted to steal vaccine research in order to aid their own efforts.
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted that the announcement “may be another effort to stoke doubts or goad [the U.S.] into forcing early action on our vaccines.” He also told CNBC that he “wouldn’t take it.”

The big picture: There are three vaccines worldwide — one each from the U.S., U.K. and China — that have entered or are headed toward phase three trials.

  • There are at least 16 other vaccines currently in clinical trials in Australia, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, the U.K., the U.S. and China.
  • Experts are increasingly confident that it’s no longer a question of if but when vaccines will eventually be available.
  • But they caution that we won’t know how effective they are in protecting against COVID-19 — and for how long — until after phase three trials are completed.

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