Russia has approved its third domestically produced coronavirus vaccine, although large-scale clinical trials have yet to be completed.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on February 20 that registration of the CoviVac vaccine makes Russia “the only country today that already has three vaccines."
The first 120,000 doses of the vaccine, produced by the state-run Chumakov Center, are expected to reach Russians by March. By the end of the year, Russia aims to have some 20 million doses of CoviVac produced.
Scientists at the Chumakov Center claim their vaccine is more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19, although Phase 3 clinical trials aren't expected to start until April.
In August, Russia approved the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, prompting scientists around the world to question its safety and efficacy because it was registered before the results of Phase 3 studies were made available.
But in early February, peer-reviewed, late-stage trial results published in The Lancet medical journal showed the two-dose regimen of Sputnik V was 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, about the same level as the leading Western-developed vaccines.
The vaccine has now been approved for use in some 30 countries.
A second vaccine developed in Russia, called EpiVacCorona, was registered in October and is expected to go into arms in March.
Even though Russia was early to register domestically produced vaccines, so far only about 2.2 million people in the country have received at least one of two necessary injections, or about 1.5 per cent of the population.
Unlike the Sputnik V vaccine and Western shots, the new CoviVac vaccine was developed using a whole inactive virus. A similar vaccine has been developed by China.