Russia coronavirus: Country approves second vaccine after early trials

Russia approves second Covid-19 vaccine after early trials and claim it offers immunity from the virus for up to six months

  • Russia has approved its second coronavirus vaccine for use by the public 
  • Move comes after early-stage trials, but before mass safety testing 
  • Country claims the jab is safe and provides protection for up to six months 
  • Comes two months after country approved first vaccine, also before safety trials 

Russia has approved a second coronavirus vaccine for use, despite the jab not undergoing mass testing. 

The two-shot EpiVacCorona vaccine has so-far been tested on 100 volunteers in early-stage trials, which wrapped up around two weeks ago.   

Scientists have refused to disclose the results of the trials, but claim the vaccine was safe and produced an immune response that could provide six months of protection.

Vladimir Putin announced the news personally in a TV address to the nation, saying Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova and the head of Russia’s consumer safety watchdog Anna Popova were among those in the early test group.

Russia has approved a second coronavirus vaccine – EpiVacCorona – for use by the public, before mass safety testing has been carried out (file image)

The jab (pictured), which is given in two doses, has been tested on 100 people and scientists claim it could provide protection for six months

‘We now need to increase production of the first vaccine and the second vaccine,’ Putin said, adding that the priority was to supply the Russian market.

The news comes two months after Russia approved its first vaccine, Sputnik V, for use by the public, also before mass testing had taken place.

Russia claimed at the time that it had registered the first effective coronavirus vaccine, but was criticsed both at home and abroad for doing so before full testing had been carried out.

Sputnik began undergoing trials on 40,000 volunteers in September, while similar tests on the EpiVacCorona vaccine will take place in November or December. 

Sputnik V has been made available to people in at-risk groups, such as such as doctors and teachers, while tests are ongoing.

Putin did not say whether this would be the case with the EpiVacCorona vaccine, though such an approach seems likely.

Russia has one of the highest coronavirus case totals in Europe at 1.3million, and is currently reporting more than 14,000 cases per day

Russia has officially recorded 23,000 deaths from coronavirus, though skepticism has been raised over how this data is collated

Vektor, the company which manufactures EpiVacCorona, said it hopes to produce the first 60,000 doses ‘in the nearest future’.

Russia’s first vaccine, Sputnik V, was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute and approved by the government on Aug. 11, after early trials among 76 volunteers were completed. 

Just like on Wednesday, Putin personally broke the news on national television and said one of his daughters had already been vaccinated, experienced slight side effects and developed antibodies.

Golikova said Wednesday that 13,000 volunteers have so far enrolled in the studies of the Sputnik V vaccine.

Russia has also promoted its Sputnik V vaccine abroad, despite concerns about its effectiveness and safety.

Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the effort, said last month that Mexico, India and Brazil have ordered 200 million doses.

Vladimir Putin announced approval of the vaccine on Wednesday evening, revealing that two senior government officials had been among the test group

Dozens of other countries are interested in getting the vaccine, he added.

Speaking at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, Putin offered to provide the Sputnik-V vaccine to U.N. staff for free. 

He described the offer as a response to popular demand: ‘Some colleagues from the U.N. have asked about this, and we will not remain indifferent to them.’

Russia has the world’s fourth largest coronavirus caseload with over 1.3 million infections. It has also reported over 23,000 deaths.

The outbreak in the country appeared to slow down in the summer, but the number of new infections started to grow rapidly last month. 

Over the past 11 days, Russian health officials have been reporting over 10,000 new cases every day. 

They registered a record number of 14,231 new cases on Wednesday.

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