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COVID-19 vaccine in Russia: 'It's less of a vaccine and more of a Molotov cocktail', expert says

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Health experts have expressed doubts about Russia's COVID-19 vaccine announcement.
Health experts have expressed doubts about Russia's COVID-19 vaccine announcement.   -   Copyright  Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation
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In the global search for a COVID-19 vaccine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that his country was one step ahead.

Russia has announced that a locally developed vaccine has been given regulatory approval and could be available to the public in the coming months.

President Putin says the vaccine has gone through all necessary safety tests, but health experts are raising concerns over the speed of its development.

Speaking to Euronews, the former Associate Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Peter Pitts, expressed his doubts about Russia's announcement.

"There's no data, there's no transparency, there's no FDA in Russia [and] they've got a history of approving drugs and vaccines with little or no testing," said Pitts, who is also President of the Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest.

"It's less of a vaccine and more of a Molotov cocktail at this point, which is exactly what we don't need in the global battle against COVID-19".

'Rigorous procedures' needed

The World Health Organization (WHO) responded to Russia's announcement by underlining the "rigorous procedures" that are required for licensing a vaccine.

In a statement sent to Euronews, the global health body said it was aware that the Russian vaccine had been registered with the country's authorities, and welcomed "all advances in COVID-19 vaccine research and development".

"Accelerating vaccine research should be done following established processes through every step of development, to ensure that any vaccines that eventually go into production are both safe and effective," WHO said.

It added that it was in touch with Russian scientists and authorities, and looked forward to reviewing details of the trials.

There are currently 167 viable vaccine research candidates around the world, 28 of which are in a process of "clinical evaluation".

Peter Pitts told Euronews that he expects that multiple COVID-19 vaccines will be developed for different demographics, but says that focus on Russia's latest announcement should be avoided.

"We can't allow this hype to take our eye off the prize, which is a solid, high-quality, well-vetted, and well-regulated vaccine."

"Shame on us if we allow this announcement to slow down for one moment the development of a solid, science-based vaccine".

Click on the player above to watch Peter Pitts' interview with Alex Morgan in #TheCube.