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19 Aug, 2020 20:02

Top Russian scientist says Western criticism of world's first coronavirus vaccine prompted by fear of competition & loss of face

Top Russian scientist says Western criticism of world's first coronavirus vaccine prompted by fear of competition & loss of face

Criticism by Western scientists of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine is motivated by competition. That’s according to the Vice President of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, who says they’re upset when they’re lagging behind Russia.

Vladimir Chekhonin said he did not think this situation would last too long. “A vaccine will soon be registered in China. I am sure it will be done within two or three weeks,” the academy’s vice president predicted, adding that such a vaccine would also be registered in the United States by the year’s end.

“Foreign colleagues are often very critical, sometimes too critical, about the Russian vaccine because they understand that they are somewhat behind us,” he told news agency TASS, when asked to comment on the reaction of foreign scientists to the registration of the Sputnik V, the world's first registered formula for coronavirus immunization, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center in Moscow.

“I don’t want to indulge in politics, it is not my domain,” Chekhonin said, "but, concerning purely scientific aspects, I can say that our vaccine hasn't been developed from scratch. They [the Gamaleya Center] have a rather strong team of specialists,” he stressed. “They have colossal experience, both bioengineering and gene engineering experience, the experience of developing various structures on the basis of adenoviral components. They have a vast biotechnology experience. They have their own production facility, although quite small. They have all the components a team developing a vaccine might need."

According to Chekhonin, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences studied possibilities for the development of a two-component vaccine from the outset. “These decisions were based on a profound scientific understanding that the Gamaleya Center has built up from a vast experience of work with the SARS and MERS coronaviruses,” he explained. “They have been working with them since the beginning of this century. There were no grounds to doubt that they would be able to do this job with high quality."

The very fact that Russia is developing several platforms for vaccines proves that “we are strong in this area, we have our own powerful potential,” Chekhonin added.

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