COVID-19 Fact Checks

FALSE: Russian university completes clinical trials for world’s first COVID-19 vaccine

FALSE: Russian university completes clinical trials for world’s first COVID-19 vaccine
The vaccine that underwent a clinical study at Sechenov University is not the first in the world
Claim:

Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia has completed the clinical trials for the “world’s first COVID-19 vaccine.”

The claim was made by the Indian English-language business newspaper Financial Express in a report published on Sunday, July 12. Their headline read, “World’s first COVID-19 vaccine! Russia’s Sechenov University completes clinical trials of Coronavirus vaccine.”

They cited the Russian state-controlled news agency Sputnik News, which published an article titled, “Russia’s Sechenov University Successfully Completes Trials of World’s 1st COVID-19 Vaccine” on the same day.

Sputnik’s article has a total of 778 interactions on Facebook according to CrowdTangle, while the Financial Express‘ article has 447,982 interactions. The story was also picked up by Indian publications like Times Now, Livemint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, and Zee News.

This claim was emailed to Rappler by a reader for checking.

Rating: FALSE
The facts:

The COVID-19 vaccine that underwent a clinical study at Sechenov University is not the first in the world. A number of other vaccines are in more advanced phases of testing. (READ: What you need to know: Coronavirus cures, vaccines being tested)

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the clinical development of a vaccine is a 3-stage process wherein the vaccine is tested on increasingly larger groups of people before it is approved and licensed.

The first clinical trial for a vaccine by Gamaleya Institute, an epidemiology research center in Moscow, was completed at Sechenov University. According to a release published on Sechenov’s website on July 13, it is the first Russian clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

On July 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a list of 23 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation. The list indicates that the vaccine by Gamaleya Institute is currently undergoing phase 1 of clinical evaluation. Vaccines like those by Sinovac and the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca are already on phase 3.

Gamaleya Institute’s vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine from Russia that was included in the WHO’s list of vaccines in clinical evaluation.

According to Sechenov University’s release, the vaccine has been proven safe for patients. Volunteers for the study were released from the hospital on July 15 but will be under observation for half a year to monitor whether they develop any health issues due to the vaccine. Another group of volunteers will test the vaccine on July 20.

The WHO has not announced any official vaccine, drug, or treatment for COVID-19 as of Monday, July 20. – Vernise L Tantuco/Rappler.com