Russia has boasted it will start a mass vaccination program of its citizens against coronavirus in October – but Britain is reportedly set to reject the jab if offered it.
Moscow yesterday bragged its vaccine would be a “Sputnik moment” as it is set to be the first country in the world to develop one.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Saturday that the Gamaleya Institute, a state research facility in Moscow, had completed clinical trials of the vaccine and paperwork is being prepared to register it.
He said doctors and teachers would be the first to be vaccinated, and added: “We plan wider vaccinations for October.”
Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine would secure local regulatory approval in August and be administered to health workers soon thereafter.\
Yet the speed at which Russia is moving to roll it out has prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before science and safety.
The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, has likened what he said was Russia’s success in developing a vaccine to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite.
Britain takes a similar view to the US in being sceptical of the Russian vaccine and is unlikely to be ordering it in for use here, the Telegraph reports.
One source said: “We would use a vaccine if we trusted the data.”
Crucially, it depended on how open the Russians or Chinese were, the source said.
Russia has released no scientific data proving the vaccine’s safety or efficacy while details of the British vaccine being tested have already been published in The Lancet.
Public health experts say it would be impossible for Britain to accept a vaccine from another country without all internationally recognised protocols being met.
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data, including three developed in China and one in the UK.