According to Putin, his own daughter’s already been given a dose. Take from that what you will.

The entire world has been on the edge of their seats at home, waiting for the one thing that could finally control the COVID-19 pandemic: a vaccine. It has become a race between countries to see who is the first one to come up with an effective vaccine, and it seems Russians were the first ones to yell “Eureka!” According to President Putin, Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for coronavirus.  

The vaccine was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, and was named Sputnik-V, in honor of the 1957 launch of the Soviet Union’s satellite, which was first in the world. However, a vaccine isn’t something you can develop in a short time, which is why Russia’s scientific achievement has the entire world shocked. This leads us to a big question: is Russia cutting corners?

The thing is, the Sputnik-V hasn’t gone through Phase 3 trials yet, which are crucial tests for vaccine development. In these trials, thousands of people are given either a vaccine or a placebo injection, and are followed afterward to see whether the vaccine prevents the disease or not. As for the Gamaleya Institute, their intentions on conducting Phase 3 trials haven’t been expressed at all. 

So far, the Sputnik-V vaccine has only been tested on a group of 76 volunteers as part of early-stage trials, but the results have not been published yet. This is why the rest of the world has a lot of questions and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the Russian vaccine.

“It takes several years to develop any drug,” said Svetlana Zavidova, executive director of Russia’s Association of Clinical Trials Organizations. “Selling something the Gamaleya (institute) tested on 76 volunteers during Phase 1-2 trials as a finished product is just not serious.” Zavidova also mentioned she is worried that it will not be 100% clear to people whether the vaccine prevents COVID-19 or not, or if it causes any serious side effects. The way Russia monitors the effects of medicines, she says, “is not the best”.  

Besides Russia, other countries are still working on the development of other vaccines. The ones that we might want to keep an eye out for are one from AstraZeneca and the Univesity of Oxford, and another one from the biotechnology company Moderna and the US National Institute of Health. 

The race continues, and the winner won’t be the one who finishes first, but the one who’s able to provide a truly safe vaccine, which has undergone and passed enough trials to prove it could once and for all, put an end to the pandemic that turned our 2020 upside down.