Russia is not the only country pursuing domestic politics over global cooperation in the fight against coronavirus
We’re all waiting for a coronavirus vaccine, but when Russia announced earlier this week that it would be the first country to approve one, nobody rejoiced. Scientists pointed out clinical testing wasn’t complete, the vaccine had been tested on fewer than 100 people. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he had “serious doubts” it would work. It was a transparent and potentially dangerous PR stunt. “It’s ridiculous,” the head of Russia’s Association of Clinical Research Organizations told the magazine Science, “I feel only shame for our country”.
The mysterious vaccine may turn out not to be dangerous. The technology is similar to several approved vaccines, and Russia has said its release will be limited to healthcare workers and other at-risk populations until further trials are completed. China similarly approved an in-trial vaccine for military use with essentially no fanfare. But it’s unlikely to work – most vaccines don’t. The point for Russia appears to be to pass off a limited-release in-trial vaccine as completed in order to score a little nationalistic dopamine hit. (The project is even named Sputnik V, suggesting it is a successor to the Soviet rockets that bested the US in the space race.)