President Vladimir Putin claimed on Tuesday that he approved Russia’s experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine and the nation was readying mass distribution, alleging that his daughter was one of the test subjects and is feeling well since taking it.
An official claimed that the vaccine still needed to clear Phase Three testing, however, which would place its development behind the leading American-made vaccine.
Russia has documented one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world during the pandemic, which began in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan late last year. At press time, Russia claims to have confirmed 895,691 cases of Chinese coronavirus and slightly over 15,000 deaths.
Russia is one of a number of rogue states — including China itself, Iran, and North Korea — claiming to be developing a vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus. No vaccine currently exists for any known coronavirus, including those responsible for the SARS and MERS outbreaks in the past two decades.
“As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered,” Putin proclaimed on Tuesday, according to the Russian news agency TASS. Putin claimed that some who have taken the vaccine “do not have any symptoms at all” and that his daughter was among the experimental patients.
“I know this very well, because one of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in testing,” he claimed, stating that she developed a fever after both doses of the vaccine, but “after the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine, she is feeling well and has a high [antibody] count.”
Putin did not clarify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, allegedly took the vaccine.
TASS cited Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko clarifying that, while the vaccine is officially ready, mass distribution will not occur before 2021, leaving months open for competing vaccines being developed in the free world to get cleared for mass distribution. Murashko did claim that distribution of the vaccine to at-risk workers like health professionals and teachers would begin as soon as possible.
“We will begin the stage-by-stage civilian use of the vaccine. First and foremost, we would like to offer vaccination to those who come into contact with infected persons at work. These are medical workers. And also those who are responsible for children’s health – teachers,” TASS quoted Murashko as saying.
Russian officials are claiming that they are also receiving international requests for doses of the virus. According to TASS, 20 states are requesting the vaccine.
“We see a great interest abroad towards the Russian vaccine produced by the Gamaleya Research Institute. We have received preliminary requests for the purchase of over 1 billion doses of the vaccine from 20 states,” head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev claimed on Tuesday. “We are ready to ensure production of over 500 mln vaccine doses along with our foreign partners in five countries, and we plan to increase our production capacity further.”
Dmitriev claimed the countries were “Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian states,” TASS claimed.
Dmitriev notably asserted that the vaccine still needed to undergo Phase Three trials, which contradicts Putin’s statements.
“The third stage of clinical trials of the Russian vaccine will also take place abroad. We have reached agreements on holding the corresponding trials of the Gamaleya [Research Institute] vaccine with our partners from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and a number of other states,” he said.
The Russian vaccine, produced by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, is currently competing with an experimental product from the American biotechnology company Moderna, which entered Phase Three trials — the longest and most difficult round of trial — in July. Following the announcement of the vaccine moving to Phase Three, the head of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that mass distribution of the Moderna vaccine could begin in “late fall and early winter.”
Fauci said the American vaccine appeared to induce “a level of antibodies which are the proteins that fight the virus at a level that was quite high in the sense of it was comparable, if not better, than what we see in the recovery from natural infection.”
The Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik offered more details on the vaccine, including that it is being nicknamed “Sputnik V” after the Soviet satellite that Russians claim marked a turning point in global technological development. The outlet claimed the vaccine would only protect a person from the virus for two years and available only to people ages 18 to 60 who are not pregnant and do not have health complications that make the vaccine too dangerous to try.