Russia to 'mass produce' experimental COVID-19 vaccine
"We believe that based on the current results it (the vaccine) will be approved in Russia in August and in some other countries in September..., making it possibly the first vaccine to be approved in the world," said the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund.
Russia plans to produce 30 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine domestically this year, with the potential to manufacture a further 170 million doses abroad, the head of the country's sovereign wealth fund has said.
The first human trial of the vaccine, a month-long test on 38 people, ended this week. Researchers concluded that it is safe for use and induces an immune response, though the strength of that response is as yet unclear.
A larger Phase III trial involving several thousand people is expected to begin in August, said Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) head Kirill Dmitriev, Reuters reported.
"We believe that based on the current results it will be approved in Russia in August and in some other countries in September..., making it possibly the first vaccine to be approved in the world," he said.
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed and tested to try to stop the pandemic. At least two are in final Phase III human trials, one being developed in China and the other in Britain, according to World Health Organization data.
The Russian Phase III trial will be conducted in Russia and two Middle Eastern countries, Dmitriev said, and will begin after a smaller, 100-person Phase II trial wraps up on August 3.
The COVID-19 pandemic has so far infected more than 751,000 people and claimed over 11,900 lives in Russia.
On Wednesday, meanwhile, dozens of people were arrested at a protest in Moscow against constitutional reforms that give President Vladimir Putin the option to remain in power for another 16 years, witnesses and monitoring group OVD-info said.
About 500 demonstrators, many of whom wore face masks branded with the word "no", chanted calls for Putin to resign and held up banners against the reforms.