More than 40,000 people will participate next week in the start of clinical trials for the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Russia said Thursday.
Announced on 11 August, the vaccine was met with skepticism by the international community.
"Next week (...), a clinical study on the efficacy (...) and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine will begin in Russia," said the Russian sovereign wealth fund, associated with the development of the vaccine, adding that "more than 40,000 people will participate in the study in more than 45 medical centers.”
The official website dedicated to the vaccine had announced that "phase 3 clinical trials involving more than 2,000 people" in several countries had begun on 12 August.
Questioned by AFP about these trials, the press service of the sovereign wealth fund specified that "there is no phase 3 in Russian law.”
"From a legal point of view, these are studies taking place after the registration of the vaccine" on 11 August, the fund said, adding that they can be considered "equivalent to phase 3.”
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The head of the sovereign wealth fund, Kirill Dmitriev, told an online briefing on Thursday that vaccination of "risk groups,” including medical staff, would also begin next week on a voluntary basis.
More than 20 countries have applied to purchase a billion doses of the vaccine, he added. He noted that Russia has agreed to produce vaccines in five countries.
Dmitriev also said he expects "mass vaccinations in Russia to begin in October,” with the start of vaccine deliveries abroad scheduled for November or December. A delegation from the Saudi Ministry of Health is expected to visit Moscow next week, he added.
Sputnik V, also the name given to the first artificial satellite in history, has been viewed with scepticism around the world, partly because of the lack of a final phase of trials when it was announced.
"We have seen a significant change in tone on the part of the WHO. Initially they didn't have enough information about the Russian vaccine, now official information has been sent and they will evaluate it," Dmitriev said.
"We see no obstacle to individual regulators approving the Russian vaccine without WHO approval," he added.
The Brussels Times