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Thursday, 29 October, 2020

Keys | Russian experimental vaccine in Venezuela, reliable or not?

Since its announced, the Russian vaccine is the center of the controversy due to the speed of its creation, and the fact that it skipped research and development stages, critics argue.

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The Maduro regime announced that the first batch of the experimental Russian vaccine Sputnik V arrived in Venezuela on October 1. It is a novel Russian medicament that has been in controversy since its approval by the Vladimir Putin government.

Maduro, accused of crimes against humanity by the United Nations, is being investigated since 2017 by the International Criminal Court, tied to the Odebrecht, Derwick and PDVSA corruption scandals and his fostering of illicit, ecologically disastrous gold mining projects denounced by Human Rights Watch. And, now, he intends to help Russia develop a polemical vaccine using Venezuelans as test subjects.

Scientists and some governments of the world, mainly the United States and some countries of the European Union, question its levels of effectiveness and safety, so much so that they made it clear that they will not bet on vaccines against COVID-19 developed in Russia.

Below we present some of the reasons why some reject Sputnik V, the first vaccine announced against the aggressive pandemic virus.

  • Speed kills: Russia approved and presented the vaccine in a matter of months, and that is one of the main reasons why it generates distrust in parts of the world scientific community and governments such as those of the United States and countries of the European Union
  • Still waiting for phase three: The Russian vaccine has not yet been subjected to phase three testing, which consists of clinical trials that extend over months. On the contrary, Moscow decided to begin vaccination, and, at the same time, they were carrying out other tests just because the health authorities of that nation say they are sure of the effectiveness of the vaccine.
  • 76 subjects: Russia has been defensive, to say the least, in regards to its vaunted vaccine. In response to criticism, Russia claimed that its vaccine had undergone safety tests. Its scientists explained that the doses got tested on different types of rodents and primates before being tested on two groups of people, made up of 38 members each. However, the WHO says the vaccine must be tested on thousands of people before they are considered safe.
  • Lack of transparency: Scientists around the world are pushing for Russia to present accurate and transparent data on clinical trials conducted for the use of the vaccine. One of them was the Italian biologist and bio-ethicist Enrico Bucci. In a letter published on September 7, the scientist showed his concern for the suspiciousness of the data from the tests carried out on the two groups of 38 people. Most of them generated the same amount of antibodies besides strange patterns of duplicated data, also called attention. Another 16 scientists supported the letter.
  • Suspicious patterns: The scientists who signed the letter also showed distrust because of the similarity of the data. “They generated almost identical antibodies,” they argued.
  • WHO not behind it: The World Health Organization received with caution the approval of the Russian vaccine. The WHO spokesmen have urged Putin to complete the three phases of trials necessary for the formula to be completely safe.
  • Warnings: The WHO also required Russia to adhere to existing international standards for the production of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Not vaccine, merely a study: Venezuelan internist and infectious diseases doctor, Julio Castro, assured October 2 that what arrived in Venezuela from Russia is not a vaccine, but merely a study. He argued that to be considered a safe vaccine, it must pass through international regulatory studies.
  • Protocols not being observed: Castro reiterated that Sputnik V must comply with all national and international research protocols.
  • Vote of no confidence: Castro also considers that the data available worldwide on the Russian vaccine are not transparent, and for that reason, it does not generate trust.

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