Russia on Tuesday declared itself the first country
to approve a coronavirus vaccine with President Vladimir Putin saying one of
his daughters had been inoculated.
Dubbing the vaccine "Sputnik V" after the
Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space, Russian officials
said it provided safe, stable immunity and denounced Western attempts to
undermine Moscow's research.
Scientists in the West have raised concerns about
the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might
be cutting corners and coming under pressure from authorities to deliver.
The World Health Organization said any WHO stamp of
approval on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate would require a rigorous safety data
Putin had told a televised video conference call
with government ministers, "This morning, for the first time in the world,
a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered.
"I know that it is quite effective, that it
gives sustainable immunity," he said.
The president said one of his daughters had been
inoculated with the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya research institute in
coordination with the Russian defence ministry and other government bodies.
"In this sense she took part in the
experiment," Putin said, adding that she had a slight temperature after a
second injection and "that's all".
The chief of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, which
is financing and helping to coordinate the vaccine efforts, told reporters that
Phase 3 trials on a large group of people would start on Wednesday.
The vaccine developed by Russia is a
so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the
DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya's vaccine is based on the
adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed
by China's CanSino.
The state-run Gamaleya institute came
under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the
prototype several months ago, with specialists criticising the move as an
unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from
Britain, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian
intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine
from labs in the West.