The Russian Vaccine — All In The Name Of COVID-19

We’ve all heard the good news. After months of prayer and anticipation, we finally have a weapon to fight against the virus that has killed millions of people and wreaked havoc on the economic stability of our society in just a matter of weeks. Russia just came forward as the first country to produce a vaccine, thus claiming the trophy in the race against various countries. And as happy as one ought to be with this wonderful news, it has actually created a sense of suspicion and doubt because of how fast Russia was able to do it, while the rest of the countries are still working tirelessly. The Russian vaccine has indeed become a spectacle for the world.

Russia — first in everything

Russia has always been at the forefront when it comes to being first. From satellites to spaceships, Russia has awed the world with its newly invented toys which motivated other countries to set up research institutions to come up with their own discoveries. But the recently discovered vaccine may not necessarily be motivated by the passionate need to save the world from a vicious virus. Naturally, most countries believe it to be a power move to remind everyone of Russia’s tendency to become first at everything.

But this is not the first time that Russia has come forward with a vaccine to “supposedly” save humanity. Earlier this year, the president claimed to have developed a vaccine against the Ebola virus, calling it “the most effective in the world’. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization didn’t think so. As a result, the vaccine had only been approved for emergency use after Phase 1 and 2 trials, but not Phase 3.

Even when Russia came forward with a vaccine against the coronavirus, they couldn’t count on the WHO’s support. After Russia announced its achievement, the WHO made it crystal clear that a stamp of approval will be given only to those vaccines that provide a rigorous safety data review. Even though Russia had been warned to not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness, it has already received foreign requests for one billion doses.

Global reaction

Most countries are feeling increasingly slighted and outwitted as Russia celebrates its discovery as a historic moment. This was mostly because, while other vaccines are undergoing rigorous tests to prove its efficiency, the Russian vaccine has yet to complete its final trials. Russia has also not published any scientific data from its initial clinical trials, thus making the whole affair and their true intentions pretty questionable. According to the WHO’s list of vaccine candidates in human testing, the Russian vaccine is still in the Phase 1 trials.

So, what is so special about getting to Phase 3? This is probably what the health ministry sarcastically asked the Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organization (ACTO) when they urged the ministry to hold off the approval of the vaccine till the final trial had been successfully completed.

Phase 3 or the final stage study involves testing the vaccine on tens of thousands of people, which is the only way to prove whether it is safe and actually works. Even though these trials are normally considered as essential precursors for a vaccine to attain regulatory approval, the president claims that the vaccine is perfectly safe, considering how it has even been administered to one of his own daughters. Thus, the president has very conveniently declared the efficiency of the virus, comparing his daughter to the mandatory ten thousand people required for testing. Slow claps, everyone.

Of course, the concerns on the safety of the vaccine have been raised by countless experts, declaring the whole affair as a reckless decision taken to ensure national prestige. When it comes to dealing with a global pandemic that is currently holding the world in its clutches, global recognition should be the last thing to even be considered. Even Russia should know that.

Now, while Russia basks in this recognition, the governments of countries like Canada, the United States, and Britain have naturally started pointing fingers. They have accused Russian state hackers of attempting to steal vaccine research, thus adding more to how shady this entire affair is beginning to look. Russia has, in turn, denied these baseless accusations, although the possibility of the existence of Russian hackers may not be that hard to believe. Instead, they credited their initial discovery of the Ebola vaccine for developing the vaccine for the coronavirus.

Sputnik V — Russia’s pride

If we take a look at Russia now, we’d be able to see how every state television stations and other media are praising the scientists responsible for this venture and presenting it as the envy of other nations. The vaccine has been named ‘Sputnik V’ after their discovery of the first satellite, and its approach is similar to a vaccine being developed in the Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

As popular as Sputnik V has become over these last few days, the question of whether it is the most reliable and safe one to be administered, still remains. Also, with Russia at the forefront, the race to develop a vaccine just got more intense and dramatic, with various governments pressurizing their researchers to get the process moving.

The very efficiency and teamwork of various governments of the world was very cleverly tested ever since the advent of the pandemic. Only time will tell us which country will be able to get through this with their reputation intact.

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