The World Health Organization (WHO) says discussions are underway with Russia regarding a possible pre-qualification of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.
"We’re in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are underway regarding a possible pre-qualification of the vaccine by WHO," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, reports Xinhua.
Jasarevic explained that the pre-qualification of any vaccine involves rigorous review and evaluation of all the data required for safety and efficacy in clinical trials and noted that at the WHO level, this process would be the same for any candidate.
He said each country has national regulatory bodies that approve the use of vaccines or drugs in its territory. "Manufacturers are asking for WHO pre-qualification because it is a kind of seal of quality," the WHO spokesman said.
‘First to register coronavirus vaccine’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that his country is the first in the world to register vaccine against COVID-19.
"As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered," TASS news agency quoted him as saying.
Putin said one of his daughters had tested the vaccine on herself and that she is feeling well.
He said the first Russian vaccine forms stable cell and antibody immunity.
Putin said he hoped that the mass production of the vaccine registered in Russia would begin in the near future and vaccination will be available to everyone in the country voluntarily.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that she expected the production of the vaccine to start at the end of August or the beginning of September and health workers will be the first to be vaccinated
Russian vaccine greeted with some alarm
Though the announcement was welcome across the globe, some scientists in Russia and other countries expressed skepticism over the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.
They said making the vaccine available in a hasty manner can result in a backfire, reports AP.
Some scientists expressed fear as the vaccine is yet to complete phase-3 trial. Besides, the vaccine was studied in only dozens of people for less than two months.
Health condition of former Indian president of Pranab Mukherjee, who was put on ventilator support after a surgery on Monday, has been worsened .
The Army's Research and Referral (R&R) Hospital made the disclosure on Tuesday, reports Times of India.
Mukharjee got admitted to the military hospital with critical health condition on Monday noon and tested positive for coronavirus.
Later, he was found with a large brain clot for which he underwent emergency life saving surgery.
In a statement, the hospital authority said "Shri Pranab Mukherjee's health condition continues to remain critical at Army Hospital (R&R) Delhi Cantonment. The former president, who underwent lifesaving emergency surgery for brain clot on 10 August 2020, has not shown any improvement and his health status has worsened. He remains on ventilator support."
A multidisciplinary team of doctors is constantly monitoring the health of the former president.
In a tweet on Monday, Mukherjee himself disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 and urged people who had come in contact with him in the last week to isolate themselves and get tested for the novel coronavirus.
Soon after the news of his hospitalisation, wishes poured in from various quarters for his early recovery and a number of leaders sent their wishes on Twitter.
President Ram Nath Kovind also spoke to Mukherjee's daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee and enquired about his health on Monday evening.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also sent in his best wishes to the former president and wished him early recovery.
A powerful orator and scholar, Mukherjee had been a Congress stalwart before he was elected as India's 13th President and served from July 2012 to 2017 in the top post.
The first-ever vaccine against the coronavirus got approval from the authorities concerned in Russia on Tuesday.
Although the step was welcomed across the globe, a quarter of scientists in Russia and other countries expressed skepticism over its effectiveness and safety.
They said making the vaccine available in a hasty manner can result in a backfire.
Some scientists expressed the fear as the vaccine is yet to complete phase- 3 trial. Besides, the vaccine was studied in only dozens of people for less than two months.
While announcing the approval, President Vladimir Putin said one of his two adult daughters already was inoculated.
He said the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and was shown to provide lasting immunity to the coronavirus. “I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity.”
But no proof to back up the claim of its safety or effectiveness has been provided.
“We must be grateful to those who made that first step very important for our country and the entire world,” Putin added.
Meanwhile, the Association of Clinical Trials Organizations of Russia criticised the step, saying the fast-tracked approval will not make Russia the leader in the (vaccine) race.
“It will just expose consumers of the vaccine to unnecessary danger,” it said, urging government officials to postpone clearing the vaccine without completed advanced trials.
The vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow uses a different virus -- the common cold-causing adenovirus -- that’s been modified to carry genes for the “spike” protein that coats the coronavirus, as a way to prime the body to recognize if a real COVID-19 infection comes along.
Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that his country is the first in the world to register vaccine against COVID-19.
"As far as I know, this morning for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection was registered," the president said, reports TASS news agency.
Putin said one of his daughters had tested a Russian COVID-19 vaccine on herself and that she is feeling well.
He said the first Russian COVID-19 vaccine forms stable cell and antibody immunity.
"I know this very well, because one of my daughters got vaccinated. So in this sense, she took part in testing," Putin said.
He noted that after the first vaccine shot, his daughter had a 38°C fever, and on the next day, a fever slightly higher than 37°C.
"And after the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine, she is feeling well and has a high [antibody] count," the Russian president said.
The Russian leader pointed out that "some people do not have any symptoms at all" after getting a vaccine shot.
On Tuesday, the number of globally confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 20 million.
Also read: COVID-19 cases top 20 mln: JHU
India reported 53,601 new coronavirus cases Tuesday as its total infections neared 2.3 million, reports AP.
The health ministry said 871 patients have died, raising total fatalities to 45,257.
India has been posting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June. Its total infections are third in the world, behind the US and Brazil.
These three countries account for half of the world's 20 million cases. The true numbers are thought to be much higher because of factors including low testing and the possibility the virus can be spread by people who don't have symptoms.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body, said nearly 25 million samples have been tested.
Health experts, however, say the country needs to test more people given its big population.
Read Also: COVID-19 cases top 20 mln: JHU
A country of 1.4 billion people, India has been conducting a little less than 18,000 tests per million population.
Global COVID-19 cases have surpassed 20 million according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.