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11 Apr, 2020 17:04

First group of volunteers assembled as Russia prepares for human testing of Covid-19 vaccine

First group of volunteers assembled as Russia prepares for human testing of Covid-19 vaccine

The initial human volunteers have been selected to test a Russian vaccine against the deadly new coronavirus in trials set to begin in late June. The project's chief developer is leading by example by taking his place among them.

Work on the biological preparation began in February at the Vector Institute, Russia’s leading virology and biotechnology research center. It's based in Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia. Earlier in April, researchers announced that the vaccine had successfully passed trials on mice and ferrets, with preparations for human testing in full swing.   

The first stage will see 60 people participating, Rinat Maksyutov, Vector Institute’s general director, told Rossiya-1. Numerous people from Novosibirsk and other Russian regions have offered their services as volunteers.

The list of test subjects has already been put together, and some members of the team now working on the vaccine, including lead developer Ilnaz Imatdinov, are among the volunteers, Maksyutov revealed. The scientists stepped forward because “they are confident in the effectiveness and safety” of the agent they are preparing, he said.

The start of human trials doesn’t mean that Russia will get its Covid-19 vaccine instantly, as testing is a “very precise thing,” especially when it comes to humans, Sergey Netesov, former Vector deputy general director and head of its lab for 30 years, told RT.

The remedy is critical as there have been almost 13,600 coronavirus cases and 106 deaths registered in Russia already. The global death toll is 104,800 people and more than 1.7 million are infected with the highly contagious disease. Vaccines are also being developed by China, the US, and other countries.

“In principle, the [Russian] vaccine for mass consumption shouldn’t be expected to arrive earlier than September,” Netesov, who now heads the microbiology and virology laboratory at Novosibirsk State University, said.

The volunteers, who are “healthy people of between 22 and 28 years of age, both males and females,” must be under supervision for at least a month after the pharmaceutical is administered to them. And for the next 60 days, they have to remain in contact with the researchers and report any complications that may occur.

Also on rt.com Russia presents Covid-19 TREATMENT based on existing anti-malaria drug

And this is just the first phase of vaccine testing, during which its “safety and immunological potency” are confirmed. After that, a pair of similar phases are required in order to figure out the right dosage and other important factors. These two steps can be merged if “the test subjects come from the epicenter of the outbreak of the disease,” but it’s still a lengthy process, Netesov explained.

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