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Russia Vaccine Approval Raises Concerns

Russia has approved the first coronavirus vaccine, though the Wall Street Journal reports the announcement was met with concern as safety testing has not yet been completed.

According to the the New York Times, the vaccine has yet to undergo Phase III testing, which typically compares candidate vaccines against placebo to gauge whether they prevent infection. Such testing, it notes, requires thousands of people and can also detect less common side effects. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has said it would only approve a vaccine that is 50 percent more effective than placebo, the Times adds.

As the Journal notes, there has been political pressure in Russia to quickly produce a coronavirus vaccine as President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this year that he wanted a vaccine by September. It adds that Russia plans to not only use the vaccine in a domestic immunization program, but offer it abroad under the name Sputnik V. "I hope we can start a massive release of this vaccine soon," he said, according to the Journal, and noted one of his daughters had received it.

Still, the Russian Association of Clinical Trials Organizations has called on the health minister to delay approval of the vaccine until testing is complete, it adds.