Russia’s declaration, that it has registered its Sputnik V vaccine as safe and effective for mass production and inoculation even before so-called phase 3 large-scale safety trials, which usually take months, fits the pattern.
The point of phase 3 trials is to test both the effectiveness and efficacy of the vaccine in the widest possible sample and to assess risky side effects.
Most serious of all, perhaps, is that despite suggestions to the contrary, little is known about how useful this vaccine will be.
Russian officials have expressed a hope that the antibody response that it provokes might last up to two years, despite a lack of strong evidence to back that up. In fact, little is known about how long antibodies against coronavirus last in the body, what protection they confer, or for how long. Nor is it clear how much protection it will give to the most vulnerable. There is a danger that a partially effective vaccine will give governments and populations a false sense of hope that the pandemic is nearly over, which could lead to hasty withdrawal of suppression measures.
“The problem with any Russian vaccine is that the way it was tested undermines public faith in it. Even if it works it’s unlikely to be widely adopted in the rest of the world. The fears that it’s unsafe could even stoke the anti-vaccine movement and drive up the number of people who refuse to be inoculated because it will feed
conspiracy theories, in the US and elsewhere.”