Should America consider using Russia’s COVID vaccine?


Fact Box

  • According to a recent Gallup poll, one-third of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were free, FDA-approved, and ready today.  
  • A 2019 survey revealed that 45% of American adults doubt vaccine safety.
  • Vaccines typically go to market within a year while FDA approved pharmaceuticals undergo long-term multi-year double-blind safety studies before being presented to the public. They are not tested as regularly or strictly as pharmaceuticals for safety.
  • There are three phrases in vaccine development: Phase 1 tests the vaccines on small groups of people. Phase 2 focuses the test on specific ages and physical characteristics. Phase 3 expands the test to “thousands of people” to test effectiveness and safety. 
  • Russia named their vaccine the Sputnik-V, a nod to the “surprise 1957 launch of the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union.”
  • The Russian government approved Sputnik-V before any Phase 3 trials had begun as Russia had previously passed a law in April 2020 that removed the Phase 3 requirement for vaccines before approval.

Kenny (Yes)

In 1957, Sputnik shocked the world by being the first satellite to orbit Earth. In 2020, Sputnik V shocked the world by being the first vaccine to treat COVID-19. Russia being first didn't stop other countries from creating their own space programs then, and it won't stop them from creating their own vaccine programs now. With over 750,000 deaths since February 2020, COVID-19 is still a global pandemic with an upward trending daily death rate nearing 6,000/day. This emergency requires a 'space race' motivation level to produce cures and save hundreds of thousands of lives. If it was your loved one on a ventilator because COVID-19 collapsed their lungs, wouldn't you be mobilizing to save their life?

Russia's vaccine, developed by the world-renowned Gamaleya Research Institute, uses the fully sequenced adenovirus as the vector for their vaccine. Epidemiologists worldwide have long recognized the medical value of adenovirus as a platform for delivering treatment for cancers, genetic defects, and vaccines. This method's proven track record is so well trusted that the U.S. military uses it as the basis for immunizing millions of troops against acute respiratory disease.

The only 'scientific' criticism against the vaccine is its Phase I trial consisted of 76 people (or is it 38?). Yet Phase I trials for adenovirus treatments in a wide range of illnesses have been as small as 21 people and as large as 7,000. Be honest: trial size isn't their issue; this is about keeping Russia and Putin as convenient scapegoats to blame for the U.S.'s shortfalls, whether scientifically or politically.

William (No)

Would you take medicine not verified by multiple doctors or scientists? Probably not. America's leading infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed to ABC News on August 12 that, 'Having a vaccine, and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective, are two different things.' Russia began the first medical trials on June 17, months after teams in China, the U.S., or Europe, who are still testing their vaccine. Experts doubt the effectiveness, quality level of safety, and moral ethics, by not doing the required and standard cross-verification tests. Russia's Gamaleya Institute in Moscow has not released any safety or immunity data from their studies. This makes it impossible for any other scientist to create an independent assessment, which is common to verify the accuracy of results. Fast-tracking vaccines can backfire. In 1976, the Swine Flu vaccine failed when the disease turned out to be mild; however, hundreds of people developed a rare nerve disorder after being vaccinated. In 2009, European countries who used the H1N1 vaccine, “some people [developed] the sleep disorder narcolepsy.”

Dr. Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University and other experts, stated Russia is taking a dangerous step by skipping Phase 3 trials. Phase 3 proves that if the Russian vaccine works better than a placebo, it does not have any harmful effects on people who receive it. Meticulous studies done by regulatory agencies like the European Medicines Agency or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will only approve a vaccine as safe and effective after passing rigorous Phase 3 trials.

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