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Russia’s COVID-19 cases soar; second vaccine due in 2021

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The developers of Russia’s second vaccine against COVID-19 on Friday said mass production would begin in 2021, as Russia reported a record daily increase in coronavirus infections.

A recent surge in cases has taken Russia past the 2 million threshold, behind only the United States, India, Brazil and France in total infections. Authorities have resisted imposing lockdowns across the country as they did earlier this year, however, preferring targeted, regional measures.

Russia last week said its first vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V, was 92% effective, according to interim trial results. Around 500,000 doses are due to be produced in November.

Post-registration trials for the second vaccine, EpiVacCorona, being developed by Siberia’s Vector institute, are underway.

“Mass production will start in 2021 with the involvement of industrial partners,” the institute was cited as saying by news agencies. “To date, 15,000 doses of the vaccine have been issued. By the end of the year 50,000 doses will be released.” 

Vector’s vaccine centre said all volunteers injected with EpiVacCorona had developed antibodies against COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported without specifying the number of people involved.

The vaccine’s effectiveness can only be assessed when preliminary or final results of the post-registration trials are released, Vector said.

Antonina Ploskireva, an epidemiologist at consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, on Friday urged people to continue observing strict rules for wearing masks and gloves and underlined the importance of social distancing. 

“There is a specific trend towards the start of stabilisation as a whole in Russia; however, it is premature to speak about this phase,” she was cited as saying by RIA.

Authorities reported 24,318 new coronavirus infections on Friday, including 6,902 in Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,039,926.

Russia also reported 461 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,311.

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