Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin

first_imgPresident Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, a source told Reuters last month. Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin dismissed those concerns, saying the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.”I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.He said he hoped mass production would start soon.Phase III trialThe vaccine’s approval by the health ministry comes before the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO), a trade body representing the world’s top drugmakers in Russia this week urged the health ministry to postpone approval until that final trial had been successfully completed.In a letter to the ministry, it said there were high risks associated with registering a drug before that happened.”It is during this phase that the main evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy is collected, as well as information on adverse reactions that could appear in certain groups of patients: people with weakened immunity, people with concomitant diseases and so forth,” it said.Some international experts have also questioned the speed at which Russia approved its vaccine.”Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, currently testing CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials.”In that respect, I think it’s reckless to do that [approve it] if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”Duncan Matthews, a professor of intellectual property law at Queen Mary University of London, said news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine was to be welcomed, “but safety must be the priority”.”The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have fast-track approval procedures for emergency humanitarian use and we need to see evidence that Russia is adopting an equally prudent approach,” Matthews said in an emailed comment.More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data. Topics :center_img Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity.Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, hailed the development as a historic “Sputnik moment”, comparable to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite.The vaccine will be marketed under the name ‘Sputnik V’ on foreign markets, he said. State media have trumpeted the news.But the speed at which Russia has moved, approving a vaccine before the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy are over, has worried some scientists, who fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.last_img read more

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Badgers spoil golden opportunity to join top ranks of Big Ten

first_imgEVANSTON, Ill. — After completing its Big Ten “bye week,” it appeared as though Wisconsin would be able to control its own destiny in regards to the Big Ten title.With just four games remaining on the Badgers’ schedule going into Thursday night, it could have been argued the game with Northwestern would be their most important.While Wisconsin does end the season by traveling to both No. 16 Michigan State and No. 22 Iowa, it first needed a victory in Evanston to be in good position to contest for at least a share of the Big Ten title.However, the conference-bottom-feeding Wildcats had plans to play spoiler and throw a wrench in the Badgers’ title hopes.Heading into the matchup, Wisconsin knew the Welsh-Ryan Arena would be a rather hostile environment despite the mere attendance of 6,119 — many of whom were also Badger fans.The team also knew Big Ten leading scorer Vedran Vukusic would be the man to put most of its defensive efforts upon.Vukusic finished the game with a solid effort, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds, but it was Mohamed Hachad who really gave Wisconsin its problems on defense, as he simply could not be stopped.With a career-high 25 points — highlighted by a backdoor cut and emphatic dunk over Michael Flowers — Hachad led the Wildcats to a 62-51 victory over Wisconsin and made the Badgers’ Big Ten title hopes just a little bit harder.With the disappointing loss, Wisconsin must now hope for some help from other conference teams in the final two weeks of the regular season if it hopes to stay alive in the Big Ten race.The Badgers are currently tied with Illinois for second in the Big Ten at 8-5, one full game behind conference leaders Iowa and Ohio State.Wisconsin hopes its last game of the season versus Iowa will be the deciding factor for the title, but if Ohio State takes care of business versus its remaining three rather mediocre opponents — Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue — then the Badgers will have to settle for a second-place tie.But regardless of how the conference race turns out, Wisconsin blew a prime opportunity to jump ahead of the pack Thursday — and much of the team knows it.”We had a chance to be at the top of the Big Ten if we would’ve came in and won, but our backs are against the wall right now, and now we have to rely on other teams losing,” guard Kammron Taylor said. “From here on out, it’s do or die.”Simply put, the Badgers played as if the game had no Big Ten title implications whatsoever.”For a chance to be in first place and to play how we played, we didn’t play like a team that was vying for first place,” Kammron Taylor said.Just before the off week, Wisconsin was on a roll, winning three-straight games after snapping a horrid funk in the month of January which included a glaring loss to North Dakota State.With the team red-hot following a 78-73 home upset over No. 12 Ohio State and two victories beforehand, the off week may now be seen as the reason the winning streak came to an abrupt end Thursday.”It kind of took us out of rhythm a little bit,” Butch said of the team’s time off.”We weren’t clicking,” he added. “We weren’t playing like we usually play.”But now putting the loss quickly behind them, the Badgers return home Sunday for their final home game and will attempt to get back on track again.”We’re just going to have to bounce back in practice and get ready for Minnesota on Sunday,” Taylor said.Despite Wisconsin’s now-dimming chances for a conference title, there’s no doubt it still has a shot in the tough Big Ten — and it all starts with Sunday’s game versus the Golden Gophers.”We just got to be ready to go out on Sunday now,” Butch said. “We still got a chance here. The big thing is just [to] keep on trying to plug along, keep on getting some wins here, and look at the next game. … We got to put this one behind us.”last_img read more

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