WHO in contact with Russia on new COVID-19 vaccine: spokesma

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is in close contact with Russia regarding a possible pre-qualification of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, a WHO spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are underway regarding a possible pre-qualification of the vaccine by WHO," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said at a virtual press briefing.

"The pre-qualification of any vaccine involves rigorous review and evaluation of all the data required for safety and efficacy" in clinical trials, said Jasarevic, adding that at the WHO level, this process would be the same for any vaccine candidate.

"Each country has national regulatory bodies that approve the use of vaccines or drugs in its territory," he said. "Manufacturers are asking for WHO pre-qualification because it is a kind of seal of quality."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country has registered the world's first vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Putin said he hoped that the mass production of the vaccine registered in Russia should begin in the near future, and vaccination will be available to everyone in the country voluntarily.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that she expected the production of the vaccine to start at the end of August or the beginning of September and health workers will be the first to be vaccinated. 

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