'Reckless and foolish': Why Russia's vaccine has experts alarmed

'Reckless and foolish': Why Russia's vaccine has experts alarmed

Russia has a vaccine, but it's anybody's guess if it's safe and effective.


Russia has a coronavirus vaccine. Whether it works is anybody's guess.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that Russia had approved a coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first country to do so. The news has been met with strong skepticism, with experts raising concerns that the experimental vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials designed to test its safety and effectiveness.

Putin promoted the new vaccine — which Russia dubbed Sputnik V — by saying it works “effectively enough” and was “proven efficient.” Yet by skipping Phase 3 trials, which are crucial to showing that a vaccine candidate can successfully prevent infections and not produce serious side effects, it’s too soon to know if this or any potential vaccine is ready to be rolled out.

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“The Russian vaccine gamble is reckless and foolish, whether ‘it works’ or not,” Francois Balloux, a systems biologist at University College London’s Genetics Institute in the U.K., wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Scientists around the world have been working nonstop to develop a coronavirus vaccine, which is widely seen as a crucial step in getting the world back to normal. That has meant figuring out ways to speed up what is usually a yearslong process while ensuring proper testing and safety protocols are still followed.