Summary:

  • Brazil, Philippines review Russian vaccine
  • Australia suffers deadliest day yet; first day north of 400 new cases in 3
  • Duterte says he would personally take Russian vaccine
  • Tokyo confirms 222 new cases
  • South Korea tightens some restrictions amid mild uptick
  • German health minister “skeptical” of Russian vaccine

* * *

Russian authorities are engaging with the WHO about the possibility of “preapproving” Russia’s first COVID-19 vaccine, which has only been tested on a few hundreds people. However, while western governments and officials like Dr. Scott Gottlieb express skepticism, other countries suffering from untrammeled outbreaks are trying to find ways to engage.

Responding to these criticisms, Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said allegations that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe are “groundless” and “driven by competition.”

Local press reports that Brazil’s Parana state is in talks to produce a Russia-approved COVID-19 vaccine, despite not having completed mass clinical trials. However, it’s unclear whether Brazil’s regulators would grant this approval.

During yesterday’s Moscow conference dedicated to introducing the adenovirus-vaccine to the world, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund explained that it had already received orders for a billion doses.

“Together with our foreign partners, we are ready to produce more than 500 million doses of the vaccine per year,” fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev explained. Everything produced in Russia will be used domestically, and doses produced abroad will be consumed abroad, he said.

Already on Wednesday, Philippine scientists were set to meet representatives of the Gameleya Research Institute, which spear-headed testing of the vaccine with Moscow’s state medical college. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has already congratulated Russia on its vaccine, and offered to be “injected in public” to allay fears surrounding safety.

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Meanwhile, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said during a radio interview that he’s “very skeptical” about Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is cleared for use but could be dangerous to use.”

“It’s not about being first, it’s about having an effective, tested and therefore safe vaccine,” said Spahn on DLF radio.

British newspaper the Telegraph warned in an editorial published with Wednesday’s edition that the world should be skeptical of Russia’s vaccine since it has only undergone limited testing for safety and efficacy. Despite the Gameleya Institute’s solid track record for producing vaccines, a legacy that Putin leaned on heavily during Tuesday’s press briefing, the editorial warned to be wary of “political” ploys.

The epidemiology it is using is similar to that at Oxford University where scientists are also said to be close to success. But the requisite protocols for determining whether the Russian vaccine is both safe and effective do not yet appear to have been carried out. The numbers involved in clinical trials are also low which makes efficacy hard to establish.

Furthermore, the fact that the Russians have called the vaccine Sputnik 5 after the Soviet satellite that stole a march on the Americans in the Sixties by sending animals into space and returning them to Earth indicates a political agenda.

Tokyo confirmed 222 new coronavirus infections, compared with 188 the previous day and 197 on Monday.

One day after confirming its first domestic cases in 102 days, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her cabinet would decide Friday on “next steps” re: any new COVID-19 restrictions.

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South Korea, meanwhile, confirmed 54 new cases, up from 34 a day ago, pushing total infections in the country to 14,714 with 305 deaths. In response, the government strengthened social distancing rules in funeral homes and wedding halls to prevent the contagion’s spread.

Finally, one week after Melbourne extended a temporary lockdown in response to the outbreak in Victoria, Australia recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic on Wednesday, and the biggest daily rise in infections in three days, denting hopes that a second wave gripping the state of Victoria may be stabilizing. Victoria reported 21 deaths, two more than the previous deadliest day earlier this week. The country reported also reported 410 new cases in the past 24 hours, snapping a stretch of 3 days with fewer than 400 cases.

Via Zerohedge