Russia approved on Saturday a third COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced, although mass clinical trials of the shot, labelled CoviVac and produced by the Chumakov Center, have yet to begin.
Russia has already approved 2 coronavirus vaccines, including the Sputnik V shot, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, following a similar approach of granting approval before seeing any late-stage trial results.
The preemptive approvals had raised concerns among some scientists in the West, but inoculations with those first 2 shots kicked off on a large-scale in Russia only after trials were finalized and showed success.
Sputnik V was approved in August and late-stage trials started in September. Large-scale vaccination was launched in December, after preliminary trial results showed the vaccine to be 91.4% effective.
Since then, at least 2 million Russian citizens have been inoculated with at least the first dose of Sputnik V, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Feb. 10.
Rollout of a second vaccine, developed by the Vector Institute in Novosibirsk, is beginning.
Prime Minister Mishustin said “today, Russia is the only country to have already 3 vaccines against COVID-19.”
The Chumakov Center, founded in 1955 in St Petersburg by Mikhail Chumakov, is known for its work with US scientist Albert Sabin at the height of the Cold War, which led to the production of the widely-used polio vaccine.