Russia approves first COVID-19 vaccine

Russia’s health ministry has given regulatory approval for the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

The move paves the way for mass inoculation even as the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.

The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before science and safety.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge.

Russia expects regulatory approval for a potential COVID-19 vaccine this month and is ready to provide it to the Philippines, or team up with a local firm to mass produce it.

The Philippines has among Asia’s highest numbers of coronavirus infections, which rose to 136,638 on Monday after a record daily jump of 6,958 cases.

“I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Duterte said on television late on Monday.

The frenetic global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has raised concern that speed and national prestige could compromise safety.

To allay public fears, Duterte offered to be a guinea pig when the vaccine arrives and said: “I can be the first they can experiment on.” Reuters

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