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Russia develops ‘first’ COVID-19 vaccine, WHO urges caution

Russia develops ‘first’ COVID-19 vaccine, WHO urges caution

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday declared Russia the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, but scientists and the World Health Organization said it still needed a rigorous safety review.
Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated, though clinical trials were not yet complete and final stage testing involving more than 2,000 people was to start only on Wednesday.
Western scientists were sceptical, with some warning that moving too quickly on a vaccine could be dangerous, but Russia denounced criticism as an attempt to undermine Moscow’s research.
Putin has pushed hard for Russia to be the first to announce a vaccine and officials dubbed it “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space.
“This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered with Russia’s health regulator,” Putin told a televised video conference call with government ministers.
“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” he said, adding that one of his two daughters had received the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the Russian defence ministry.
WHO’s spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in “close contact”
with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval. (AFP)