Russia had approved a coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first country to do so. The news has been met with strong scientific skepticism, with experts raising concerns that the experimental vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials designed to test its safety and effectiveness.
The Lancet, a world-renowned medical journal this past week revealed that it had asked the authors of a study on the potential Russian COVID-19 vaccine, that the Russian declared as being the first effective vaccination for the potentially deadly disease for clarifications. The research has now become under intense scrutiny – and many scientists are openly questioning the data released.
The Russia government announced last month that its coronavirus vaccine they have named “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957, had already received approval.
This announcement by the Russian government immediately raised concerns among Western scientists over a lack of safety data. It prompted many to warn that moving too quickly with this newly developed vaccine could be dangerous.
Russia’s vaccine researchers finally published their trial findings last week in the Lancet, meaning their research could and is now undergoing peer review for the first time.
The Russian research said that the vaccine had proven to be “safe and well-tolerated” among (just) a few dozen volunteers.
The peer review hasn’t been going well. In an open letter signed this week by more than 30 Europe-based experts cast doubt on the findings and pointed to “potential data inconsistencies.”
The peer review has led to many examining the Russian results in identifying a number of duplications in figures presented and concluded that the data within the study was “highly unlikely” to be correct.
This peer review wasn’t welcomed by the lead study author of the Russian vaccine study. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency quoted him Thursday as
The Lancet, for its part, told AFP that they were aware of the open letter from the 30 Europe-based experts.
“We have shared the letter directly with the authors and encouraged them to engage in the scientific discussion,”
A spokeswoman for The Lancet was quoted as saying independent experts had reviewed the Russian research and data turned over to it before publication. The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilization of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.