Russia not the world's first to develop COVID-19 vaccine: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Russia not the world's first to develop COVID-19 vaccine: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Biocon Executive Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has questioned claims of Russia developing the world's first vaccine against COVID-19, citing the absence of clinical trial data on and "more advanced" programs elsewhere.

Referring to the novel coronavirus vaccine developed by Moscow-based Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, Mazumdar-Shaw said that the world had not seen any data from the vaccine candidate’s phase-I and phase-II human trials.

"If launching a vaccine prior to completion of Phase-III trials is acceptable to Russia, well so be it," Mazumdar-Shaw told news agency PTI.

"But it doesn't make them the world's first vaccine as several other vaccine programs are even more advanced," she added.

On August 11, Russia had announced that it had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine called ‘Sputnik-V’. Gamaleya institute, which has developed the vaccine, works under the Russian Healthcare Ministry.

The first dose of the vaccine was reportedly administered to Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughter. Putin had also claimed, without any evidence, that the immunization provided by the vaccine protects people for up to two years.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the Russian vaccine is not among the nine it considers to be in advanced stages of testing.

“We don't have sufficient information at this point to make a judgment” on the Russian vaccine, said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to WHO's director-general.

Sputnik-V is a so-called viral vector vaccine that is based on human adenovirus fused with SARS CoV-2’s spike protein to stimulate an immune response in the body. It is said to be similar to a vaccine candidate being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics.

It was earlier reported that a number of individuals belonging to Russia’s political and business elite had been given early access to the experimental vaccine. Russian billionaires and government officials reportedly started getting shots of a potential vaccine as early as April.

More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final phase-III human trials, according to WHO data.