Health

Most Russian doctors would not administer Moscow's COVID-19 vaccine: poll

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An employee of a Russian biotech company works on a coronavirus vaccine in Saint Petersburg on May 20. [Olga Maltseva/AFP]

MOSCOW -- More than half of doctors polled in Russia say they would not administer the Kremlin's much touted coronavirus vaccine, Russia's RBC reported earlier this month.

Of the 3,040 doctors polled, 52% said they would not administer "Sputnik V" to patients.

When asked to explain their lack of confidence in the vaccine, 66% cited insufficient data on its ineffectiveness, while 48% said it was impossible to create a successful vaccine so fast.

Grigory Berezkin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, owns RBC. RIA, a Russian state-run media outlet, also published news of the unflattering poll.

Warnings from healthcare professionals

After the vaccine was announced to much fanfare on August 11, health scientists and medical analysts around the world sounded the alarm, with many suggesting the unproven, untested drug may be in fact more dangerous than COVID-19.

The state-run Gamaleya Institute, which produced the vaccine, came under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the prototype several months ago, with specialists criticising the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.

Observers have previously raised concerns that Russian researchers cut corners and came under pressure from authorities to deliver.

"The collateral damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective could exacerbate our current problems insurmountably," said Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London.

Even Iran, which has one of the highest death tolls and numbers of infections related to COVID-19 in the world, expressed skepticism August 18 about the Kremlin's claims to have produced a safe coronavirus vaccine.

"In order for the vaccine to be used, genuine and independent organisations such as the World Health Organisation must comment on it and approve it, which has not happened yet," Alireza Zali, a member of the Iranian regime's anti-COVID-19 task force, told a news conference in Tehran.

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They even don't want to use this touted vaccine themselves.

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