Medical centers in Moscow have started vaccinating the public with Sputnik V, a vaccine that has not been fully tested, but which the government has previously lauded as the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine, as part of a vaccination campaign announced by Russian President Valdimir Putin.
According to the Associated Press, Putin said Wednesday that more than 2 million vaccine doses will be made available for a “large scale” immunization campaign that will take place over the next few days.
Doctors, teachers, and social workers have been first in line for the vaccine, which the Russian government started to administer in the capital city over the weekend, according to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle. Seventy vaccine centers in Moscow are in the process of opening. However, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, and people over the age of 60 currently cannot receive it.
The vaccine, which was approved by the Russian government back in August, has “yet to complete the advanced studies needed to ensure its effectiveness and safety in line with established scientific protocols,” reports AP. Back in November, the vaccine maker said Sputnik V was 95% effective in preliminary clinical trial results, but they didn’t specify infection rates among placebo recipients and vaccine recipients, or the number of trial volunteers that the preliminary data was based on, reported The New York Times.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova has warned that anyone receiving the Sputnik V vaccine should limit alcohol for six weeks after the first inoculation — of which there are two — so as to not potentially weaken the immune system, the Times recently reported.
Last week, the United Kingdom approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for use on the general public. Pfizer, an American company, says its vaccine candidate was 95% effective in clinical trials, and 94% effective for elderly recipients.
According to the Associated Press, Pfizer expects to produce 50 million doses of their vaccine before the end of the year, roughly half of which have been earmarked for the U.S. If approved, the vaccine could become available to some in the U.S. by mid-December.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla described the company’s shipping method, which will involve isothermic boxes that can store the vaccine vials for travel at the necessary temperatures (-94F and -112F) without traditional refrigeration, according to The New York Times.
“Those boxes are isothermic boxes that have a GPS and also a tempo meter so we know at any point where the box is and what is the temperature so if something goes wrong, which we don’t anticipate, we will not use the vaccine. Every box is a small box like that and can take 1,000 to 5,000 doses. And when we ship it, we don’t need to use refrigeration. So we can ship it in cars, trucks, planes, boats, whatever. In the US, we will ship to most of the places overnight,” said Bourla.
“So once we receive an address from the government, the next day the product will be there,” he continued. “And once people receive it they can keep it for weeks in the box or they can keep it for months in their freezers or they can put it in refrigeration and keep it for a week, approximately. I think that the demand will be so big, it’s going to be injected in hours rather than days or weeks. So we feel very confident about it.”
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