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The start of the clinical trials of a new vaccine against the COVID-19 virus was announced on Thursday. These trials, which will involve over 40,000 people, are due to begin next week.

“A clinical study of the effectiveness and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine will begin next week in Russia,” said the Russian state-owned welfare fund associated with the vaccine, indicating that “more than 40,000 people will participate in the study at more than 45 medical centres.”

The vaccine, called “Sputnik V”, was described by Russian authorities as safe and effective after receiving national regulatory approval earlier this month. Large-scale production is due to start in September.

Some scientists have expressed concern that Russia is putting prestige ahead of security. “I would be the first to be vaccinated,” Lopez Obrador said in his morning press conference. 

“And currently we have agreed on a huge protocol for 40,000 participants. The purpose of this protocol is not so much to study the immunogenicity and safety of the vaccine, that goes without saying … But, in plus, we will have to assess the epidemic’s efficacy of this vaccine,” Logunov said.

Asked about the Russian coronavirus vaccine during another online press briefing on Thursday, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, replied: “Let me say, overall, that any progress in vaccine development is very encouraging news.”

The country has a long tradition of developing and adopting vaccines, he added. “But… every vaccine must pass the same rigorous standards of efficacy and safety. And to know there’s only one way to do it, it’s clinical trials: Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3” Kluge says.

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