Moscow’s mayor on Wednesday invited residents to join trials of a coronavirus vaccine that the Russian government approved for use earlier this month, reported AP. According to scientists, any vaccine should first be tested in advanced trials involving tens of thousands of people to prove its safety and efficacy before being registered.

“We all were eager to see the creation of a vaccine, and now we have it,” said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. “Now, Moscow residents have a unique chance to become the main participants in clinical research that will help defeat the coronavirus.” He added that the vaccine was based on long-time previous research and had proven to be safe.

The advanced trials will last for six months and involve at least 40,000 people. The phase one and two clinical trials of the vaccine candidate were completed on August 1.

Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The vaccine has received a registration certificate from the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11. Under emergency rules, it can be used to vaccinate the population in Russia. Mass production of the vaccine is expected to start in September. India and Russia are in talks for collaboration to manufacture Sputnik V, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said on Tuesday.

Russian officials have said the vaccine would initially be made available to high-risk groups, including healthcare workers and teachers. As of Wednesday, Russia had registered over 9,70,000 confirmed cases and 16,683 deaths.

Scientists have largely been sceptical about the Russian vaccine and have raised questions on registering it before conducting the phase-three trials. The World Health Organization has said that the real test would be in phase three trials, during which 30% protection at population level must be established. Scientists have also flagged that there was no published evidence backing Russia’s claims of the vaccine’s efficiency.

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Over 100 vaccines are being developed around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters. The World Health Organization data shows at least four vaccines are in phase three trials, including those from China and Britain.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 2.40 crore people and killed over 8.24 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s tracker. India on Thursday registered its highest single-day rise of over 75,000 fresh infections. India, which is the third worst-affected country in the world, has a total of 33.10 lakh cases, including more than 60,000 fatalities.

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