- Germany’s health minister has warned that Russia’s new coronavirus vaccine is dangerous because it has not been “sufficiently tested.”
- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said Russia had approved a vaccine that he insisted was safe, even though it has not completed full trial testing.
- Germany’s Jens Spahn said Russia’s move to approve the vaccine when it did could cause people to mistrust future vaccines if it proved unsafe or ineffective.
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Germany’s health minister has warned that Russia’s new coronavirus vaccine hasn’t been properly tested and could cause the public to mistrust future vaccinations if it turns out to be unsafe or ineffective.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said his government had given regulatory approval to the world’s first coronavirus vaccine and hoped to begin mass production soon.
The vaccine, however, has not completed its phase 3 trials, which are considered key in demonstrating the safety and efficacy of a vaccine and which are usually completed before regulatory approval is given.
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“It can be dangerous to start vaccinating millions, if not billions, of people too early because it could pretty much kill the acceptance of vaccination if it goes wrong, so I’m very sceptical about what’s going on in Russia,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn told the German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, in comments reported by Reuters.
“I would be pleased if we had an initial, good vaccine, but based on everything we know – and that’s the fundamental problem, namely that the Russians aren’t telling us much – this has not been sufficiently tested,” he said.
Spahn’s remarks echo those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, who on Tuesday said he “seriously doubts” that Moscow had developed a safe and effective vaccine that was ready for use.
He said while the US had numerous vaccines in development, “if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn’t work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to – but that’s not the way it works.”
Putin insisted the vaccine had been fully tested.
“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and, I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” he said Tuesday.
He added that one of his daughters had been inoculated with a shot of the treatment and was feeling well.
But warnings issued by the likes of Fauci and Spahn underscore concerns that Russia has taken shortcuts to score points against their geopolitical rivals. The vaccine has even been called “Sputnik V,” a nod to the satellite that the Soviet Union sent into space before the US could launch one.