Russia Coronavirus Vaccine Is Ready and Safe, Ministry of Defense Says

Russia's novel coronavirus vaccine trials were successfully completed on Monday and the results indicated long-term immunity could be established, Russia's ministry of defense said.

"The Russian Defence Ministry together with the Gamaleya [Gamalei] Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology has successfully completed clinical trials of the vaccine against COVID-19 with the participation of volunteers at the Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital," the ministry confirmed in a statement, Kremlin-backed news website Sputnik reported.

The final assessments of the test results have been made and "without exception, all volunteers, having received immunity from the coronavirus, felt fine. Thus, the first domestic vaccine against the new coronavirus infection is ready," the First Deputy Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, Ruslan Khadzhismelovich Tsalikov, told Moscow's Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.

The ministry also stated: "Test results clearly show that all volunteers developed an immune response as a result of vaccination. There are no side effects, complications or undesirable reactions, health complaints from the volunteers at the time of discharge."

While acknowledging more research needs to be done, the head of the 48th Central Scientific Research Institute of Russia's defense ministry, Sergey Borisevich, noted "the volunteers produced the necessary antibodies against the coronavirus and the vaccine components are safe," speaking to Krasnaya Zvezda, the official newspaper of the Russia's defense ministry.

Moscow, Russia, July 2020
A medical worker wearing protective equipment takes a swab from a woman at a medical facility in Moscow, Russia on July 16, 2020. Getty Images

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Borisevich also said the antibodies produced were expected to remain in the body for a long time, noting: "The capabilities of the platform previously used to develop two Ebola vaccines and a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS] vaccine will allow the antibodies generated after vaccination to be maintained for a long time."

Clinical trials on two formulations of the vaccine candidate were launched last month at Sechenov University, with 18 people vaccinated on June 18 and released from hospital on July 15. The 20 people from the latest trial were vaccinated on June 23 and discharged on July 20.

Data collected following the medical examination of the volunteers will be submitted for processing to the Gamalei institute, Sputnik reported.

The third phase of Russian's vaccine trial is expected to begin in August. The country aims to have 30 million doses of a vaccine for the virus this year, and hopes to achieve "herd immunity" next year through vaccinating tens of millions of citizens, according to Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive officer of Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is funding the development of the vaccine.

medical facility in Moscow, Russia, July 2020
A medical worker wearing protective equipment marks a swab sample at a medical facility in Moscow, Russia on July 16, 2020. Getty Images

It is hoped the vaccine will "enter civil circulation" around August 12 to 14, and mass production of the vaccine will begin by September, Alexander Gintsburg, the head of the Gamalei institute told Russia's TASS.

Earlier this week, business executives, billionaires and government officials in Russia were alleged to have had access to the country's experimental COVID-19 vaccine since April.

Several hundred were reportedly given doses of the vaccine, according to people familiar with the vaccine work who declined to be named, Bloomberg reported. But Russian health officials have denied the allegation.

A Kremlin spokesperson also denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been given an uncertified COVID-19 vaccine.

Over 14.7 million people across the globe have been infected since the virus was first reported in Wuhan, China, including 3.8 million in the U.S. More than 8.2 million globally have reportedly recovered from infection, while over 609,800 have died as of Monday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

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The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

States with most COVID-19 cases
The U.S. states with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases. STATISTA

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. states and the European Union.

New COVID-19 cases in U.S. vs EU
Average number of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the European Union. STATISTA
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