Russia’s announcement on Tuesday that it would authorize a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing sparked concern among global health experts, who said the vaccine is hard to trust with no complete trial results. Intending to be the first in the global race to create a pandemic disease vaccine, Russia has yet to perform large-scale shot trials that would yield data to prove how it works-something immunologists and infectious disease experts claim could be a “reckless” move.
Health Ministry approval of the Russian vaccine comes before trials which would usually require thousands of people, widely known as a Phase III trial. These trials are typically considered necessary precursors to obtain regulatory approval for a vaccine. Peter Kremsner, an specialist at the German University Hospital in Tübingen working on a CureVac vaccine candidate’s clinical trials, said the decision by Russia was “reckless.”
Experts said the lack of published data on Russia’s vaccine — including how it is made and safety specifics, immune response, and whether it can prevent COVID-19 infection — leaves scientists, health officials, and the public in the dark. “It is not possible to know if the Russian vaccine has been shown to be effective without submission of scientific papers for analysis,” said Keith Neal, a specialist in the epidemiology of infectious diseases at Britain’s Nottingham University.