Russia Will Start Mass COVID Vaccinations in October

Despite the fact that clinical trials are not yet complete
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2020 3:05 AM CDT
Russia Will Start Mass COVID Vaccinations in October
In this Monday, July 27, 2020 file photo, a nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway in Binghamton, NY.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Clinical trials are not yet complete, but Russia plans to roll out a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign in October. Teachers and health care workers will be the first to get the coronavirus vaccine currently being developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, which is reportedly set to begin Phase III trials—the stage at which it is determined whether a vaccine is actually effective—this month. But, as the New York Times notes, no Russian Phase III trial is included on the World Health Organization's list of vaccine trials around the globe, and concerns about Russia's lack of transparency are being raised. Russia's health minister, however, says accelerated testing is being carried out and the lab is already seeking regulatory approval; another official says approval could come as soon as this month.

"I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone," Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a congressional hearing Friday. Some are concerned Russia is using the vaccine race as propaganda, with state television claiming for months that Russia is in the lead, while there is little to no published scientific evidence supporting that claim. The US, Canada, and Britain have also accused Russian state hackers of trying to steal vaccine research, and the question of ethics has also been raised, since soldiers were the initial test subjects. (Officials say all of them volunteered.) Fauci is still saying the US should have a vaccine by the end of the year, the BBC reports. "I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines," he said Friday. (More coronavirus stories.)

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