‘A Sputnik moment’: Russia hopes to be first with Covid-19 vaccine, top official says approval expected by August 10
In 1957, the Soviet Union stunned the world when it launched Sputnik – Earth’s first artificial satellite. Seven decades on, Russian scientists are evoking the spirit of that success in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Russia aims to become the world’s first country to have a Covid-19 immunization formula approved, according to the head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which is bankrolling the research. Kirill Dmitriev told US TV “Americans were surprised when they heard Sputnik’s beeping. It’s the same with this vaccine. Russia will have got there first.”
“[Nevertheless] our scientists focused not on being the first but on protecting people,” cautioned Dmitriev. He previously noted that Russian experience in working on remedies for Ebola and MERS gave it an advantage in responding to the current pandemic.
“Russian officials told CNN they are working toward a date of August 10 or earlier for approval of the vaccine, which has been created by the Moscow-based Gamalei Institute,” the American TV channel said.
Russia’s Health Ministry said on Monday that the second phase of clinical tests of an anti-coronavirus vaccine developed by the team at Gamalei is nearing completion. The vaccine’s state registration will be addressed after the tests are over.
The product “uses human adenovirus vectors that have been made weaker so they do not replicate in the body,” CNN noted. “Unlike most vaccines in development, it relies on two vectors, not one, and patients would receive a second booster shot.”