Has Russia successfully completed the human clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine?

A claim with the message that Sechenov University of Russia has successfully completed clinical trials of the vaccine for Covid-19 tossed up widely on social media platforms around 12th July, Sunday. Various media houses all over aided in escalating this news on a large scale. Their reports clearly put forward the message that Russia was the first nation to complete the human trials of the vaccine successfully. 

A Russian embassy in India shared the message that the test was successful on the volunteers, via their Twitter handle on July 12.

Is the claim true?

Reactions from Media House

The news houses in India from The Times of India, ANI to News18, The Print, Economic Times and many others claimed this message in their reports, only spreading the news with greater intensity among the masses. 

Fact Check

Countless reports on July 12 had mentioned that Russia had successfully completed clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine. Most of these reports failed to mention that the vaccine had only passed the trials of Phase 1. Phase2 trials were yet to be performed with no clarity in Phase 3. 

As per World Health Organisation guidelines, clinical trials include tests, effects and results of treatments done on human health. The clinical trials contains 4 stages 

Phase 1: It tests news drugs among the selected slot of humans and records the results and effects. 

Phase 2: It conducts the test among a bigger group of humans as compared to phase1 so as to avoid any lapse or side effects. 

Phase 3: Here a larger region or population is chosen to test the results more effectively. 

Phase 4: Here, the drugs get approved by the country without any need of further testing. 

The first phase eventually tests a small group of people to test the safety of the vaccine. The testing of phases followed however can expand and run into years to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine for mass production. As a result, vaccines typically take a much longer time to reach the market, say 5-10 years. 

On June 18, the vaccine which was developed by Gamalei National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, collaborating with Russian Defense Ministry was administered on 18 volunteers from armed forces.

A report by Russian news agency, TASS mentioned that the clinical trials of Phase 1 will be completed by 15th July followed by trials of Phase 2. However it contributed largely in accelerating misinformation as the opening line of the report clearly said that the clinical trials for coronavirus we’re completed in Sechenov University. 

The chief researcher of the clinical research at Sechenov University, Elena Smolyarchuk gave a statement to TASS on Sunday that the vaccine had completed early human trials, also mentioning that the research was  safe and the volunteers would be released on July 15 and July 20. 

Smolyarchuk said in a news conference that the final results of the first phase are expected to come out by the end of July which could be analysed in August. Later the results would be given to the Ministry of Health, she added. 

Hence proving that the vaccine had only performed its first phase of clinical trials. It has yet to be evaluated among larger masses or regions to examine its efficiency. 

However in March, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute had reported in its article that the first ever investigation vaccine for Covid-19 was given by it to a group of 4 volunteers in Phase 1 trials which was federally sponsored. 

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