Russia commenced a national clinical trial of a vaccine candidate developed at the Gamaleya Research Institute. At least seven clinical investigational sites across that large country are involved. With two forms under investigation—a liquid and a powder—two participant groups consisting of 38 people each will participate in the clinical trial. These participants will be isolated in two separate hospitals in Moscow. An unhealthy mix of Russian style politics and science are at odds with each other.
Apparently headlines were made when Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute, disclosed that the researchers there had tested the vaccine on themselves prior to human trials. This kind of cavalier statement put a spotlight of controversy on the program. Few details followed and there was no safety events but, nonetheless, it spooked the press. The scientist’s comments triggered outrage from the Russian Association of Clinical Research Associations (RACRA), which condemned the action, stating it was a “crude violation of the very foundations of clinical research, Russian law and universally accepted international regulations,” reported ABC News.
Unhealthy Gap between Politicians & Scientists
The RACRA suggested Russian government’s targets for a finished COVID-19 candidate was not healthy, noting, “an unattainable bar has been set. Many scientists understand that, yet they got involved in the crazy race, hoping to please those in power.”
In fact, a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, extended “words of admiration” to those scientists that actually tested experimental vaccine product on themselves. Clearly, there is a large delta between Russian political aspirations and the realities of science.
Politicians should try to focus on actually getting things done that are within their wheelhouse and leave the science to the scientists.