Coronavirus Vaccine Tests on People Could Start in Russia in June, Scientists Say

The head of a top Russian research center told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that his lab was ready to start human trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines in June, RIA Novosti reported.

Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Center, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers. He was speaking during a video-link meeting between Putin and the heads of top research centers.

“Groups of volunteers have already been formed,” he told Putin, adding that a lot of people wanted to take part in the trials.”We have already received more than 300 applications.”

Maksyutov said scientists at the top-secret lab complex located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk had developed several prototype vaccines. Tests were currently underway on mice, rabbits and other animals to determine the most promising by April 30, he said.

Vektor planned pre-clinical studies by June 22 before launching the testing in humans, Maksyutov added. But the first human trials could begin in May “if the Health Ministry allows it.”

Vektor has vaccine platform technologies that have already been tested in humans for other infections and could be used for the coronavirus, he added. The laboratory complex conducted secret biological weapons research in the Soviet era and stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in Russia has risen by 1,175 over the past day, reaching 8,672 in 81 regions, the anti-coronavirus crisis center told reporters on Wednesday. The center has reported 580 recoveries and 63 deaths.

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