Russian cosmonauts set to blast off for the International Space Station said on Thursday it was too early to get a coronavirus vaccine touted by President Vladimir Putin.
“I’d personally say that I would not get vaccinated because I tread very carefully on this issue,” said Sergei Ryzhikov, the 46-year-old leader of the next expedition to the ISS in October.
He and other cosmonauts wore face masks at the Star City training centre outside Moscow during an online news conference.
The cosmonaut’s comments came after Putin touted Russia’s coronavirus vaccine developed in record time and named “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957.
“As soon as the vaccine is tried and tested and proves its reliability then a decision will be taken to recommend that cosmonauts get vaccinated,” said fellow cosmonaut, 37-year-old Sergei Kud-Sverchkov.
He said the decision was down to the doctors in charge of cosmonauts’ healthcare including immunisation.
Russia has raised concerns among Western scientists by announcing that its vaccine had received approval before full clinical trials have been completed.
While the vaccine showed promising results in early trials, Russia has not yet completed the final phase of clinical testing, in which large numbers of people receive either the vaccine or a placebo.
Nevertheless, Russia has already vaccinated high-profile officials including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Putin has said that one of his daughters was vaccinated, suffering only a mild reaction.
Astronauts routinely undergo a quarantine period before blasting off to space.
“The International Space Station is the safest place now,” Ryzhikov added.
“We don’t have to be vaccinated because we strictly follow all sanitary rules.”
Russian Recruits Show ‘No Side Effects’ in Chinese Coronavirus Vaccine Trials
Recruits in Moscow have reported no side effects after taking China’s candidate coronavirus vaccine as part of large-scale clinical trials, the Russian pharmaceutical company working with the vaccine’s Chinese developers announced Monday.
Russia approved Phase 3 trials of the Chinese vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics and the Chinese military’s research arm last month. Russia’s Petrovax pharmaceutical company said it has received more than 3,000 applications to get the Ad5-nCoV vaccine so far.
“At the moment, the volunteers are doing well. None of them have shown any side effects,” Petrovax said in a press release.
The vaccinated subjects are expected to develop an antibody and cellular immune response to Covid-19, the company added.
The study participants will be under direct supervision for nearly a month, with four interim face-to-face examinations, and will undergo a control examination after six months, Petrovax said.
The Russian company said it expects preliminary results sometime in November, according to Interfax.
Once Russia registers the Chinese vaccine, Petrovax said it will be able to produce more than 4 million doses per month this year and 10 million doses per month in 2021.
CanSino announced plans last month to launch Phase 3 trials of the vaccine in Saudi Arabia involving about 5,000 subjects.
Phases 1 and 2 involved more than 700 volunteers in China this spring.
Ad5-nCoV is one of dozens of potential Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of development around the world.
Russia registered its own candidate coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, last month before launching Phase 3 trials involving 40,000 volunteers to determine its long-term safety and effectiveness.