Russia has developed the first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday.
“This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered” in Russia, he said during a televised video conference call with government ministers.
The Health Ministry said that the vaccine is expected to provide immunity from the coronavirus for up to two years.
“I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” Putin said, emphasizing that vaccination will be voluntary. “We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world.”
“One of my daughters had this vaccine. I think in this sense she took part in the experiment,” Putin said.
The Russian president said that his daughter had a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) on the day of the first vaccine injection, and then it dropped to just over 37 degrees (98.6 Fahrenheit) on the following day. After the second shot she again had a slight increase in temperature, but then it was all over.
“She’s feeling well and has a high number of antibodies,” Putin added. He didn’t specify which of his two daughters — Maria or Katerina — received the vaccine.
Russia has been pushing hard to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine and said earlier this month it hoped to launch mass production within weeks and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year. It is the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine.
Russian authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to be inoculated.
Professor Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute that developed the vaccine, said that vaccination will start while the Phase 3 trials continue. He said that initially there will be only enough doses to conduct vaccination in 10-15 of Russia’s 85 regions, according to the Interfax news agency.
Many scientists in the country and abroad have been skeptical, however, questioning the decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people.
The World Health Organization last week urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go “through all the stages” necessary to develop a safe vaccine.
The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilization of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.