Latvian scientists on claimed Russian COVID-19 vaccine

On Tuesday, August 11, Russia was first to announce a registered vaccine against COVID-19, to be distributed in September already. Latvian Radio spoke to a few experts August 12 who were not quite as convinced of the efficacy of the vaccine.

Scientist Ivars Kalviņš, board member of the Institute of Organic Synthesis (OSI) said it's not difficult to cause antibodies to appear in the body by using a potential vaccine material; however, the trial time span is way too short to observe other significant indicators.

"The length and efficacy of the vaccine cannot be determined, because you must vaccinate not sick people and wait for them to get better, but healthy people and see whether they don't get sick. You haven't done it, then nothing. It's not a vaccine, it's an attempt to announce that it might be a vaccine," said Kalviņš.

"It can't be done any other way than to physically vaccinate someone. Then the antibody level is observed right after vaccination and then after a period of time, a month, two, a year," said Kalviņš.

Head researcher of Latvian Biomedicine research and study center Kaspars Tārs said the composition of the vaccine is nothing unique. A similar method is also used in China and Oxford.

He added he could not recall a time when a vaccine would be officially announced while it had undergone only two trial phases, as is the case with the Russian vaccine.

"The issue is, in Oxford, they have over 10000 volunteers. Here there is no information, but the number is in tens at best. And it is only the second phase. It [the vaccine] is not unknown but the problem is they have not been through all phases and are already registering it," said Tars.

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