Russian experts to speed up tests of coronavirus vaccines on humans

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The head of a top Russian research center told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines involving volunteers could begin in May instead of June as earlier planned.

Rinat Maksyutov, head of the state Vektor lab said that more than 300 people already have volunteered to take part in clinical tests.

Maksyutov, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines.

He was speaking during a video-link meeting between Putin and the heads of top research centers.

“Groups of volunteers have already been formed,” he told Putin, adding that a lot of people wanted to take part in the trials.

“We have already received more than 300 applications.”

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Maksyutov said scientists at the top-secret lab complex located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk had developed several prototype vaccines.

Tests were currently underway on mice, rabbits and other animals to determine the most promising by April 30, he said.

Putin noted that the outbreak hasn’t yet reached its peak in Russia, noting that “the situation is difficult but not hopeless.”

Russia reported 1,154 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total caseload to 7,497, with 58 deaths.

Putin asked experts whether it would be possible to lift some of the restrictions earlier to ease the pain for the economy. They said next week would show if the lockdown has helped.

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