Sunday, November 29, 2020

Russia’s Sputnik coronavirus vaccine gets a Twitter account

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Russia is launching a social media campaign to boost awareness of one of the country’s coronavirus vaccine candidates, Sputnik V, which it claims is the first vaccine approved to fight the pandemic.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) announced on Monday that it’s launching an online campaign with a website, social media accounts and a hashtag to deliver the “latest news on the vaccine” and “personal experiences and thoughts” of people who have taken it.

Russia’s fast-paced approach to developing a vaccine has been met with skepticism, starting when Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was ready to roll out this summer before large-scale safety tests had even begun. Health ministers from Germany and France even warned against the vaccine, saying it hadn’t been tested enough before use.

In September, a study published in the Lancet showed that the vaccine was safe and could elicit immune responses, although scientists have raised “concerns” over the data in the study.

Since August, the vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute is being tested in large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials with 40,000 volunteers in Russia. Further trials are scheduled in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Venezuela and Belarus.

Russia has already struck deals with several countries to sell the vaccine when ready. Hungary has also said it’s interested in ordering the vaccines.

On Monday, RDIF also announced authorization for use of its drug Avifavir, which it will offer for free to non-hospitalized patients suffering from COVID-19. The drug has previously been used in clinical trials in Russia and has been shipped to 17 countries.

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