Russia is prioritizing politics over safety with new coronavirus vaccine, NSU expert says

MIAMI – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday the Health Ministry approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Defense Ministry and the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow.

Russian scientists haven’t published any scientific information about the animal or human tests. The vaccine was named Sputnik-V, after the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite.

Charles Zelden, a Nova Southeastern University political science professor said Putin rushed to make the announcement to compete politically.

“It is a way to say that Russia is still a relevant Super Power where economically it isn’t and militarily it is hard to say,” Zelden said. “That is not the attitude you want when you are coming up with a vaccine. It is not enough that is effective, it also has to be safe.”

The Russian Direct Investment Fund announced Russia plans to test the vaccine on volunteers from other countries including the Phillippines, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Paul A. Offit, a vaccinologist who serves in a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel, said the U.S. has a strict vetting process.

“We would demand a much bigger trial to be confident that the vaccine was safe in the sense that it didn’t have an uncommon side-effect and at least effective to some extent in the short term,” Offit said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the portfolio of vaccines being assembled for Operation Warp Speed increases the odds that the U.S. will have at least one safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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