Russia readies for approval of second COVID-19 vaccine, says official

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Russia is preparing to approve a second vaccine against COVID-19 in late September or early October, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a televised government meeting, Golikova told President Vladimir Putin that early-stage clinical trials on the vaccine, developed by the Vector virology institute in Siberia, would be completed by the end of September.

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“As of today there have been no complications among those vaccinated in the first and second stages of testing,” she said.

Earlier this month Russia became the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing.

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The approved vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities. But Western experts have been skeptical about Russia’s approval of “Sputnik V,” warning against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory steps have been taken.

RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, said on Wednesday the final phase of clinical trials on “Sputnik V” were beginning.

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It said 40,000 people would take part in the final trials and that similar trials would also be carried out in five other countries.

Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said residents of the Russian capital could apply to take part in the trials.

These final trials, carried out on a large number of people, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.