The mayor of Moscow invited residents Wednesday to partake in a new coronavirus vaccination trial reportedly approved by the national government earlier this month.
The international medical community has voiced concern over Russia’s hastened approval of a vaccine without it first being tested in large-scale advanced trials, involving tens of thousands of people. Scientists further point to the lack of shared data as a break in medical community standards.
But Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has suggested that some form of testing will be conducted, saying the “post-registration research” will have a six-month duration and involve 40,000 people.
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“We all were eager to see the creation of a vaccine, and now we have it,” Sobyanin said. “Now, Moscow residents have a unique chance to become the main participants in a clinical research that will help defeat the coronavirus.”
Sobyanin said the vaccine was proven to be safe on previous research.
“The post-registration clinical trial will allow for a permanent registration certificate and expansion of the circle of possible vaccine recipients, including the 60+ age group,” the Russian Direct Investment Fund said.
The fund, which has bankrolled the development of the vaccine, also reportedly said additional trials will be conducted in five other countries, thought they did not specify which.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted the effectiveness of the vaccine earlier this month by saying that his two adult daughters have been inoculated. Putin claimed the vaccine underwent adequate testing and showed lasting immunity to the virus – though he has not provided any data proving the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The international medical community is reportedly worried that pushing a vaccine that is not yet ready could undermine people’s willingness to be vaccinated.
Russian officials have compared being the first country to produce a vaccine as an accomplishment comparable to thier launching of the first satellite in 1957 – making it a matter of national prestige.
Russia has reported over 963,000 cases and more than 16,500 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to John Hopkins University data.
Recently, the Kremlin has been condemned by the U.S., U.K. and Canada for reported attempts of espionage and vaccine data theft.
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“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” U.K.’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement earlier this month, after the British National Cyber Security Centre detailed recent Russian hacking.
“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.