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Current Affairs

The Russian Covid-19 vaccine

Date: 14 July 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Numerous reports have claimed that clinical trials for a Russian vaccine had been “successfully” completed. What most of these reports did not specifically mention is that only phase-I of the clinical trials had been completed. 

 

Background

There is only one candidate vaccine being developed in Russia which has reached the human clinical trial stage. That candidate is being developed by the Gamalei National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology in partnership with the Russian Defence Ministry.

 

Details

  • Phase-I is where ‘safety and tolerability’ of a vaccine is tested, on a small group of volunteers. The news report has claimed that none of the volunteers had reported any complaints, experienced no side-effects, and would be discharged from the hospital soon.

  • The second group of volunteers, who are tested for the efficiency and immunogenicity of the vaccine, will be injected with the second component of the vaccine against the Coronavirus.  This round would involve the injection of the vaccine amongst civilian volunteers as well.

  • In phase-II, efficiency and immunogenicity (generation of the immune response)’ is tested. It is in this state that researchers try to see whether the vaccine is triggering the desired immune response in humans, and what could be the suitable doses to generate this response.

  • A large number of volunteers, usually numbering several thousands, are enrolled for the third phase in which researchers try to ascertain whether the immune response triggered by the vaccine is able to fight the virus in real-life situations. This process could take several months.

  • There are over 150 candidate vaccines for coronavirus being developed all over the world. About 15 vaccines are in phase-I trials and about ten in phase-II trials. Three vaccines are in phase-III trials.

  • Even after the successful completion of phase-III, it usually takes several months before a vaccine is accessible to the general public. Several rounds of regulatory and administrative approvals are required.