On 11 August 2020, Russia announced that it had developed the first COVID-19 vaccine. It has named the vaccine as Sputnik-V, after the first artificial satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.
Simultaneously, it raised various concerns for the incomplete clinical trial of vaccine and its pending approval by World Health Organisation.
At the same time, it is not the first COVID vaccine. Because China had already developed its vaccine and is using it for its Armed Forces only. As it is not given to a person who is not as fit as an army person. Therefore one could say Sputnik-V is the first vaccine for civilian use.
How a vaccine is developed?
A vaccine is a biotechnological product that is injected into the human body for developing immunity against several diseases. In this process of vaccination, some weak viruses or bacteria are introduced to the human body. Then body develops the antibodies against that virus or bacteria and recognizes them.
Hence, these antibodies fight back to the virus or bacteria if it attacks again. Therefore a vaccine is not medicine for the treatment of disease but prevention for it.
Here we see various stages for the development of a vaccine. In this, clinical trial is the most important ones, that assures the effect of vaccines on human. It contains three phases of human trial.
- Phase I: here mostly 20 to 80 persons receive different doses of experimental use. The researcher then observe them several months for any effect or side effect.
- Phase II: here several hundred persons with different ages, health conditions or immunity, receive doses. They monitor them for a period of several months to a year. It is the second measure of safety and help researchers to refine the doses of medication.
- Phase III: here hundreds to 3000 volunteers receive doses. Researchers monitor them for long term side effects for more than 4 years.
After the clinical trials, the national and international health bodies like WHO, approve the vaccine. And its manufacturing would be started after such approval which shows that the vaccine is safe for human use.
Assuming that, if all stages go well, still it will take 12 to 18 months before this COVID-19 vaccine is ready for public use if we go on a fast pace.
Concern related to Sputnik-V, covid-19 vaccine:
Many experts and researchers raised their concerns about the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine. They allege the country went on fast speed in producing vaccines to supersede the Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca. These are already entered in phase III of a clinical trial.
Additionally, it put the experts in confusion, the human trial that used to be completed in years was completed in merely two months for the Russian vaccine. So far, Russia has made public the result of Phase I only. In mid-July, the Defense Ministry of Russia announced that there was no side effect had reported.
After this announcement, they entered into Phase II, and only up to 11th August, announced the development of a vaccine. How come it is possible to complete Phase II and Phase III in such a short period.
Consequently, as per experts Russia had skipped the clinical trial process and put the public health on risk. At the same time, its vaccine is still not approved by the World Health Organisation. Still, Russia has started the marketing of vaccines.
How Russia and World leaders are reacting on first covid-19 vaccine?
Russia claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine, based on adenovirus and some dead coronavirus particles, closely resembled Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). This is caused by another coronavirus family and its vaccine had already been tested very extensively.
For increasing the faith of the public, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has announced that his daughter has already been vaccinated. Other world leaders like Serbia, the Philippines including India expressed their interest to be part of the Sputnik-V Phase III clinical trial.
Other covid-19 vaccine under trial:
In January 2020, China shared the sequence of the coronavirus DNA. Since then, researchers of various countries are working on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
US government approved the development of three COVID-19 vaccines. These are Moderna’s mRNA-1273, the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 and Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162, under Phase III trial.
Indian COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and National Institute of Virology, is in Phase II of clinical trial. Other countries’ vaccines like Zydus Cadila’s ZyCoVD is under the Phase II trial. Cassini Biologic’s Ad5-N Cov(Chinese) vaccine is under the Phase III trial.
However, more than 40 COVID-19 vaccines are under research and clinical trials. Many private and public players joined their hands together to develop COVID vaccine. They are working round the clock so that we will have prevention against this pandemic. Still, we will be able to get vaccines till the end of 2020.