Russia plans to produce 30 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine domestically this year, with the potential to manufacture a further 170 million abroad, the head of the country's sovereign wealth fund told Reuters. The first human trial of the vaccine, a month-long test on 38 people, ended this week. Researchers concluded that it is safe for use and induces an immune response, though the strength of that response is as yet unclear.
Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) head Kirill Dmitriev said a larger Phase III trial involving several thousand people is expected to begin in August. "We believe that based on the current results it will be approved in Russia in August and in some other countries in September..., making it possibly the first vaccine to be approved in the world," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Earlier, the Russian defense ministry said it had developed a "safe" coronavirus vaccine. According to the ministry, 18 people had participated in the research and were discharged without "serious adverse events, health complaints, complications or side effects." In a statement, the ministry said the results of the trials "allow us to speak with confidence about the safety and good tolerability of the vaccine."
More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed to try to stop the pandemic. At least two are in final Phase III human trials, according to World Health Organization data - one being developed by China's Sinopharm and the other by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
Producers are also grappling with the question of how to massively scale up production to meet global needs.