20 Apr 2020 17:58

Russia plans to begin clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine on June 1

MOSCOW. April 20 (Interfax) - Russian medics are ready to launch clinical trials of a vaccine for Covid-19 on June 1, director of the Gamaleya Federal Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology Alexander Gintsburg said.

"A whole range of preclinical studies [of the coronavirus vaccine] are expected to be completed by May 31, and clinical trials are expected to begin on June 1," Gintsburg said at a conference on the sanitary-epidemiological situation in Russia, which was chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He thanked the head of state for permitting some clinical trials to be conducted in parallel with the preclinical studies.

"This has helped significantly step up the pace of work on this vaccine, making it possible, if everything goes well and successfully, and these aspects have been agreed with the expert institute, to probably reach the stage of state registration of this vaccine by around June 15," Gintsburg said.

In order to move up the start of using this vaccine among the population, he suggested introducing changes to the government's relevant decree (on releasing the vaccine for civilian use).

"The idea is to use not one batch of the vaccine, but three batches of it, on the state registration website. This will allow the expert institute to control three batches of the vaccine. In this case, upon completion of control, these batches will immediately be released for civilian use, without waiting for Roszdravnadzor [Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Healthcare] to spend 21 days on controlling the new batches which will subsequently be delivered. This may save at least three weeks," Gintsburg said.

The new vaccine is based on existing vaccines developed for Ebola, he said.

"They helped create vaccines for the MERS coronavirus, which is very similar to the coronavirus causing today's pandemic. This platform has proven its viability and the possibility for replication as concerns other infectious objects," Gintsburg said.

The abovementioned platform was immediately used to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, he said. The new vaccine has already demonstrated 100% immunogenicity on two species of animals, that is, mice and guinea pigs.

"At the same time, they induce very high levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies, which are sufficient for protecting against high doses of Covid-19. And they don't have any toxic effects," Gintsburg said.