Don’t rush, wait and watch, say experts on Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine claim

Express News Service

KOCHI: Though Russia has claimed to have found the first Covid-19 vaccine, concerns regarding its safety and efficacy have been raised across the globe. 

Experts said releasing a vaccine without conducting proper phase-3 trials among large groups and studying the outcome would be a blunder and put everyone at risk, even causing immunological complications. The same goes for the race to get vaccinated, they said.

There were instances when the introduction of new drugs and vaccines went horribly wrong. 

“Over centuries, drug trials became common with some ups and downs. That was until the ‘Cutter Incident’ in 1955 when a flaw in the Salk polio vaccine manufacturing process at Cutter Laboratories led to the production of substantial amounts of what was thought to be an inactive vaccine but contained live poliovirus,” said Dr G Vijayaraghavan, vice-chairman and founder director of Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences. 

“This led to one of the worst pharmaceutical disasters in medical history with 40,000 cases of polio. The vaccine was responsible for 51 cases of permanent paralysis and five deaths. There were another 113 cases of paralysis and five deaths among contacts of the vaccinated individuals,” he said.

Many Covid-19 vaccines are currently in various stages of clinical trials. None of them has completed Phase III trials to be marketed with confidence. 

Vijayaraghavan said we need to keep track of the Covid-19 vaccine trials.

“hree years. However, at this time of acute global need, we can only hope the pharmaceutical industry does not try to make a killing,” he said.

Infectious Disease expert Dr Anup R Warrier said when a vaccine for dengue hit the markets, it had bad effects on many people.

“When the vaccination was given to those who earlier had dengue – mostly unknowingly – there were serious complications,” he said.

He said any vaccine will have its risks and we cannot administer it to people without proper in-house trials. 

“The right thing to do would be to wait and watch the results and then move forward,” said Dr Anup.

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