Did Russia complete clinical trials of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine?

The clinical trials of the world’s first coronavirus vaccine on volunteers at Russia’s Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University have been successfully completed, according to Sputnik news yesterday, July 12. This was said to be confirmed by the director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, Vadim Tarasov. He also said that the first batch of volunteers will be discharged on Wednesday while the second, on 20 July. The university began trials of a vaccine produced by the Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (also in Russia) on 18 June.

The objective of this stage of the study was to show the vaccine’s safety on humans, according to the director of the Institute of Medical Parasitology, Tropical, and Vector-Borne Diseases at Sechenov University, Alexander Lukashev. He told Sputnik News, “the safety of the vaccine has been confirmed. It corresponds to the safety of those vaccines that are currently on the market.” The developer now determines a further vaccine development plan, including the complexity of the epidemiological situation with the virus and the possibility of upscaling production, Lukashev added.

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Meanwhile, Times Now News clarifies that the draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO) lists the Russian coronavirus vaccine study as a Phase I trial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that clinical development is a three-phase process. Small groups of people receive the trial vaccine during Phase I; the clinical study is expanded and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended in Phase II; then the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety in Phase III. After that, many vaccines still undergo Phase IV formal, or ongoing studies after the vaccine are approved and licensed.

As for when will the coronavirus pandemic end, another report says that a 100-percent effective coronavirus vaccine by 2021 is less likely to happen. “Of course, there is an unprecedented effort to develop a vaccine, but I would be very surprised if we had [one] that is effective in 2021,” French epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet says on BFM TV. “While we would probably have one that worked partially, we were very far from the end of the crisis,” he added.

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