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Monday, August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020
The vaccine is made by Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, a Siberian institute, pictured above

A second Russian Covid-19 vaccine is on the way which 'avoids the side-effects of the first one' launched in a blaze of publicity by Vladimir Putin this month.

The new drug is from a former top-secret Soviet biological weapons research plant in Siberia, now a world-leading virology institute.

Clinical trials of Russia's second vaccine named EpiVacCorona will be completed in September but 57 volunteers who used as human guinea-pigs report no side-effects, say scientists.

'All inoculated volunteers are feeling well. To date, the first vaccination was administered to 57 volunteers, while 43 received a placebo,' said Russia's main health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor.

The volunteers have been hospitalised for 23 days as they undergo tests, reported Interfax.

'All volunteers are well. No adverse reactions have been detected so far.'

The vaccine aims to produce an immune response after two injections administered 14 to 21 days apart.

The Russians hope to have it registered by October and in production by November.

The vaccine is made by Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology, a Siberian institute that is one of only two places in the world permitted to keep stocks of deadly smallpox. The other is in the USA.

A former top-secret Soviet biological weapons research plant, Vector has worked on developing 13 possible vaccines for coronavirus which were tested on laboratory animals.

Vector was once a key facility in the secret and illegal Soviet biological weapons programme.

It produced smallpox on an industrial scale, while also weaponising deadly Marburg, after being set up in 1973 by USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev, say reports.

In recent years Vector has been involved in efforts to find cures and antidotes to killers such as bubonic plague, anthrax, ebola, hepatitis B, HIV, SARS - and cancer.

Moscow was criticised for rushing to register its first vaccine Sputnik V on August 11 to be first in the world.

But it was registered without stage three clinical tests and amid reports of many side effects among the small number of 'volunteers' - including serving army soldiers - who tested it.

These included swelling, pain, hyperthermia - a high body temperature, and itching at the place of injection.

Volunteers suffered physical weakness or lack of energy, malaise, fever, decreased appetite, headaches, diarrhoea, pain in the oropharynx, nasal congestion, a sore throat, and runny nose.

Putin said one of his daughters - believed to be Katerina Tikhonova - had taken the first vaccine with no ill-effects.

She had the vaccination at a very early stage of its development, it was claimed.

There was no official confirmation that she was the vaccine's recipient.

Katerina, 33, uses the surname of her maternal grandmother, which for many years hid her identity as Putin's daughter.

She has gone from being a high-kicking dancer to spearhead a major new Russian artificial intelligence initiative.

She came to prominence with her spectacular 'boogle woogle' Acrobatic Rock'n'roll performances in dance competitions.

She holds a doctorate from prestigious Moscow State University after completing a study on helping cosmonauts and pilots to orientate themselves in difficult conditions.

She was formerly married to Russia's youngest billionaire Kirill Shamalov, 38.

The couple were reported to have divorced after which he wed glamorous socialite Zhanna Volkova, in her 30s.

The first vaccine was made by Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology.

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