More than 155 coronavirus vaccines are being developed around the world, even as 23 vaccines are in the human trial stage. The frontline vaccine makers are at various stages of development and have reported varying levels of success in recent weeks.
There were viral reports last Sunday when it was claimed that the Russian COVID-19 vaccine candidate had been "successfully" completed. It was indeed a successful trial, but it was only the phase-I of the clinical trials that had been completed and there's a long way to go. This part of the story mostly went unmentioned in the viral reports. It is also the only vaccine being developed in the country that has reached the human trials stage.
The Phase-II trials were supposed to start Monday, and we still don't know about the phase-III trials.
The country's coronavirus vaccine candidate is being developed by Gamalei National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, in partnership with the Russian Defence Ministry. The first phase-I human trials started on June 18 with 18 volunteers from the armed forces constituting as group one, while the second group of 20 civilian volunteers were vaccinated on June 23.
Russia's TASS news agency reported that the volunteers would be discharged on July 15 and July 20, after the vaccine was proved safe.
What Happens in The Phase-I of Vaccine Trials?
The Phase-I of the trial will only check for the safety and tolerability of a vaccine on a very small group of volunteers. Until now, there were both minor and major side effects, as reported from various phase-I trials across the world. In the Russian trials, the volunteers had no "serious adverse events, health complaints, complications or side effects," and they will be discharged from the hospital soon, as reported by the health ministry.
The second phase of the trials will check for efficiency and immune response induced by the vaccine. Here, researchers see if the vaccine triggers a desired immune response in humans, and find out the right dosage to needed for the response.
In the third phase, thousands of volunteers are vaccinated, as researchers find if the immune response triggered by the vaccine will really fight the virus. It will take several months for this phase of trials to be completed
What about Russia's 'Success'?
The Russian candidate vaccine can go to the third phase of trials only with the success of phase-II trials, which is not yet guaranteed. Thus, terming the trials as success comes with the completion of all the above three phases of clinical trials.
After the successful phase-III trials, it takes months to reach the general public as it requires a few rounds of regulatory and administrative approvals. As of now, more than 135 vaccine candidates are still in the pre-clinical stages of trials.