9news.com.au : Russia has started production of a coronavirus vaccine – the first in the world to begin the manufacturing stage – and aims to roll it out by the end of this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week the vaccine, known as Sputnik V after the Soviet-era space program, had been approved for production.
“The first batch of the novel coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute has been produced,” the Russian health ministry said in a statement.
Many scientists and the World Health Organization said it still needed rigorous safety checks.
Scientists in Russia conducted months of human trials but are yet to publish data and did not begin the crucial Phase Three stage, which usually precedes approval, before the announcement on Tuesday.
Russian authorities later said a Phase Three trial involving more than 2,000 people in Russia and several Middle Eastern and Latin American countries had begun. Typically this stage of trial involves testing on tens of thousands of people.
Putin insisted the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated.
It was developed by the Gamaleya research institute for epidemiology and microbiology in Moscow in coordination with the Russian defence ministry.
Russia reported 5061 new cases of COVID-19 on yesterday, bringing its nationwide tally to 917,884, the fourth highest numbers in the world.
Other countries are also powering ahead with vaccine development. In the US, the Trump Administration has poured USD$15 billion (AUD$21 billion) into signing deals with pharmaceutical companies as part of the Operation Warp Speed program.
Meanwhile, the Australian Government is in talks with a major European pharmaceutical manufacturer to produce a vaccine in Australia, it has been reported.