The World Health Organisation (WHO) has begun discussions with Russia aiming to obtain more information about the experimental COVID-19 vaccine the country recently approved, WHO’s Europe office said.
Last week, Russia became the first country to license a coronavirus vaccine when President Vladimir Putin announced its approval.
But the vaccine has not yet passed the advanced trials normally required to prove it works before being licensed, a major breach of scientific protocol. Russian officials claimed the vaccine would provide lasting immunity to COVID-19 but offered no proof, reports AP.
Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency official at WHO Europe said the agency had begun “direct discussions” with Russia and that WHO officials have been sharing “the various steps and information that’s going to be required for WHO to take assessments.”
WHO’s Europe director Dr Hans Kluge said the agency welcomed all advances in vaccine development but that every vaccine must submit to the same clinical trials.
Kluge noted that Russia has a long history of developing and administering vaccines, including those for yellow fever and polio.
Also read: Russia begins production of COVID-19 vaccine
“This concern that we have around safety and efficacy is not specifically for the Russia vaccine, it’s for all of the vaccines under development,” said Smallwood.
Russian officials said doctors might start getting vaccinated with their experimental shot this month and that mass campaigns could begin in October.