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Russia’s coronavirus ‘vaccine’ announced – but don’t dismiss it just yet, writes BEN SPENCER 

Russia‘s claims to have created the world’s first coronavirus vaccine should not be dismissed out of hand.

The country has a proud history of scientific achievements – it sent the first human into space and for decades led the world in the fields of engineering, mathematics and physics.

It also has a strong track record in producing reliable vaccines – notably for Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new jab, the Gamaleya Research Institute, is a long-established and well known research centre.

But it is hard to judge the safety and efficacy of the vaccine because very little information has been made available.

The teams behind experimental Covid vaccines in Oxford, the United States and China have all published detailed results of their trials at every stage. 

The Russian team, however, have given little away.

Russia has a strong track record in producing reliable vaccines – notably for Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new jab, the Gamaleya Research Institute (employee working with a coronavirus vaccine at the Institute pictured), is a long-established and well known research centre

Russia has a strong track record in producing reliable vaccines – notably for Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new jab, the Gamaleya Research Institute (employee working with a coronavirus vaccine at the Institute pictured), is a long-established and well known research centre

Russia has a strong track record in producing reliable vaccines – notably for Ebola and yellow fever – and the Moscow institution behind the new jab, the Gamaleya Research Institute (employee working with a coronavirus vaccine at the Institute pictured), is a long-established and well known research centre 

Photo provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows a researcher working in a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 6, 2020, as Russia claims to have developed Covid-19 vaccine

Photo provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows a researcher working in a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 6, 2020, as Russia claims to have developed Covid-19 vaccine

Photo provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows a researcher working in a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 6, 2020, as Russia claims to have developed Covid-19 vaccine

The scant details suggest it is an adenovirus vector vaccine – a similar type to those being developed in Oxford and elsewhere.

These contain a weakened version of the common cold virus that has been genetically changed to trigger the production of immune cells – antibodies and T-cells.

Early results from China and Oxford suggest this is a sound approach – it is likely to produce an immune response with few side-effects – but so far the Russian jab has been tested on only 38 people.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin (pictured) has claimed that Russia has developed a vaccine and says his daughter has been administered with it

Russia's president Vladimir Putin (pictured) has claimed that Russia has developed a vaccine and says his daughter has been administered with it

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin (pictured) has claimed that Russia has developed a vaccine and says his daughter has been administered with it

Pictured: Vladimir Putin's daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, who he claims was given the vaccine

Pictured: Vladimir Putin's daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, who he claims was given the vaccine

Pictured: Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, who he claims was given the vaccine

A properly conducted, randomised control trial, involving hundreds if not thousands of people, is vital to prove it is safe and works.

Rushing into a mass vaccination programme without this step would be foolhardy and dangerous.

If patients are harmed by the jab before it passes further tests it will undermine already fragile confidence in vaccines.

The good news is that it would be a relatively quick process for Russia to prove the vaccine works.

The Oxford University team is unlikely to get a definitive result any time soon because Covid-19 incidence has dwindled. 

Despite a study involving 10,000 Britons, they have been forced to test their jab in Brazil instead.

Russia still has high coronavirus infection rates and scientists estimate it would take just two months for them to prove the vaccine is safe and effective. 

Source: Daily Mail

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