Second Russian vaccine on its way, but why is Moscow rushing?
Russia is seeking to accelerate approval procedures for a second vaccine against COVID-19 by October 15; This is despite the doubts that have surrounded the authorization process for the first vaccine, which it announced last August.
The second vaccine, called "Epifacorona", is being developed by the Siberia's Vector Institute, a former Soviet research laboratory for biological weapons.
Russian officials claimed that early experiments had proven "effective and safe," but that these experiments are not yet over.
The Russian minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, expects approval for the new vaccine by mid-October.
The new vaccine is similar to the first one "Sputnik V," which was approved before the completion of all stages of the trials. The use of the new vaccine could be authorized before the completion of the third stage in which "thousands of people participate to test the efficacy of the vaccine."
The Russian Patent Office announced that the second vaccine contains synthetic materials that train the immune system to defend itself against the coronavirus. The post-registration trials, involving some 5,000 volunteers, are scheduled to begin in November or December and will continue for six more months. A separate study will also test the vaccine on 150 people over the age of 60.
Russia is seeking to control the second wave by producing a vaccine and raise its position on the global level. Moscow's acceleration in developing vaccines highlights the goal of Russia President Vladimir Putin, which is to make his country a key player in the worldwide race to secure vaccines.
Observers point out that Moscow's marketing of its first vaccine abroad was an attempt to use it as a tool of soft power to attract countries to march on their orbits.
Anton Gubka, dean of the Faculty of Management and Technological Innovations at ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, believes that Moscow seeks to create "a prominent place for itself in front of domestic and global public opinion and to be able to say that we have two vaccines."
And the Russian Ministry of Health registered the first vaccine against the virus, last August. It said that it provides "sustainable immunity," and is in the final stage of human trials.
Besides, researchers from several countries questioned this announcement. Some even considered that the hastily developed vaccine "may be dangerous," especially since it was approved before completing all stages of the experiments.