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COVID-19 WATCH

Russia testing COVID-19 vaccine by June

Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers.

Agence France-Presse

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US President Donald Trumps says at least two vaccines are being developed in the US, while scientists in other like Russia and this one in the picture from Brazil are also racing to produce a vaccine. AFP Photo

The head of a top Russian research center told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that his lab was ready to start human trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines in June.

Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers.

Maksyutov was speaking during a video-link meeting between Putin and the heads of top research centers.

“Groups of volunteers have already been formed,” he told Putin, adding that a lot of people wanted to take part in the trials.

“We have already received more than 300 applications.”

Maksyutov said scientists at the top-secret lab complex located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk had developed several prototype vaccines.

Tests were currently underway on mice, rabbits and other animals to determine the most promising by April 30, he said.

Vektor planned pre-clinical studies by June 22 before launching the testing in humans, Maksyutov added.

But the first human trials could begin in May “if the health ministry allows it”.

Vektor has vaccine platform technologies that have already been tested in humans for other infections and could be used for the coronavirus, he added.

The Vektor laboratory complex conducted secret biological weapons research in the Soviet era and stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.

Russia on Tuesday reported 7,497 coronavirus cases and 58 fatalities but the real number of infections is believed to be much higher.

p/jhd

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