Russian university says it has completed COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Image credit: Flickr/Jernej Furman

The Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia said on Sunday that it had completed COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials on volunteers and that the medication is effective.

The trials’ chief researcher, Elena Smolyarchuk, told Russian state-run news agency TASS that the trials began on 18 June with the vaccination of 18 volunteers. A further 20 volunteers were vaccinated on 23 June.

“The research has been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe. The volunteers will be discharged on 15 July and 20 July,” Smolyarchuk said.

Russian embassy shares news

The news has been shared widely on social media by various Russian embassies around the world, including the Russian embassy in Pretoria.

“Clinical trials of Russian anti-COVID-19 vaccine have been successfully completed in Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University. The tests showed [the] vaccine’s full safety. The volunteers are to be dismissed from hospital on 20 July,” the embassy tweeted on Monday.

According to a report by The Moscow Times on Monday, Russia’s military has also been conducting a trial of the same vaccine since June. The state-run Gamalei National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology developed the vaccine.

Gamalei’s Alexander Gintsburg reportedly told TASS that circulation of the Russia vaccine could start in August and mass production could begin in September 2020.

With more than 733,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, Russia ranks fourth among the worst-hit countries in the world. It has had more than 11,400 deaths so far.

Globally, confirmed cases topped 12.9 million as of Monday, with 7 million recoveries and 571,000 deaths. In South Africa, the figures stood at 276,242 cases as of Sunday, with 4,079 deaths and 134,874 recoveries.

South Africa’s vaccine trials

Around 22 vaccines are currently at the human trials stage worldwide, according to a Daily Maverick report. The first clinical trial for a COVID19 vaccine in South Africa began on 23 June.

It is being conducted by Wits University in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute. Professor of Virology at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, is leading the trial.

“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19,” he said during the trial’s launch.

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