Medical expert raises serious doubts on safety of Russia-made COVID-19 vaccine

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A lab technician works on production of the 'Medgamal' Covid-19 vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology on August 6 in Moscow, Russia. Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) – A medical expert has warned President Rodrigo Duterte against the use of COVID-19 vaccine made by Russia citing safety concerns over its creation.

Former United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts emphasized the Russians are not transparent in sharing scientific data on how the vaccine was created.

“Using the Russian vaccine really is playing Russian roulette with people’s health,” Pitts told CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon on Tuesday.

Pitts pointed out that Russia’s vaccine program is not recognized by the World Health Organization and historically, the country has quality issues on the medicines they created.

He also highlighted Russia is testing vaccines they made to their military personnel, which he said is unethical because those should be first tested to human volunteers before being distributed in a large population.

The former US FDA associate commissioner bared the Russian Ministry of Health hastily approves medical products with little or no testing, which is an improper procedure because the country must have a FDA-like agency to test these medicines.

“The only thing worse to no vaccine is a bad vaccine,” Pitts said.

The medical expert recommended the use of vaccines being developed now by known American and European pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna because these entities have excellent scientific and manufacturing knowledge of vaccines meant for global distribution. He hopes the vaccines made by these companies will be available by February or March 2021.

Duterte announced Monday night that authorities from Moscow have reached out with an offer of Russian-developed vaccines, even saying that he will be the first to receive the dose to test if it is effective.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Gamaleya Institute has registered the world's first vaccine and subjected his daughter to a dose, CNN International reported.