FARGO — Amidst reports from Russia to implement a vaccine distribution this coming October, a Fargo doctor voices concern.
"Me, as a doctor, has to recommend that vaccine. If I recommend a half-baked vaccine, a half-cooked vaccine, a half-hearted vaccine, without looking at the trial data, my patients won't trust me," said Dr. Avish Nagpal, internal medicine and infectious disease specialist at Sanford Broadway Clinic in Fargo.
Developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, the vaccine has been named Sputnik-V, after the successful 1957 launch of the Soviet Union satellite, was registered by the Russian Ministry of Health on August 11, according to its official website. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to plan mass administration of the vaccine by October, despite the fact the vaccine has yet to complete phase three trials.
Sputnik-V is the first registered coronavirus vaccine on the market. And according to its website, the adenovirus vector-based vaccine is created from "the gene from adenovirus, which causes the infection, is removed and a gene with the code of a protein from another virus spike is inserted."
Putin said he trusts the vaccine — so much so it's been tested on his own daughter.
"So we're the first to have registered. I hope our foreign colleague's work will move as well. and a lot of products will appear on an international market that can be used," Putin said.
But doctors like Nagpal aren't convinced and believe it will only take one vaccine failure to cause people to lose trust in their healthcare systems and physicians.
Additionally, he points out the lack of transparency in Russia's research and findings. Nagpal highlights the fact that the government still hasn't released official documents or reports.
"There is no safety or efficacy data that we know. I mean they have not released anything. There is a big trust issue here," Nagpal said.
Sputnik-V's website claims they've tested the vaccine on different animals, including two primates.
Mentioning that during phases one and two of trials: all human volunteers had "no unforeseen or unwanted side effects [that] were observed."
However, the website said their Phase three trails will only include 2,000 people from Russia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Mexico.
Russia plans to start mass production of the vaccine for the global market in September 2020.
"Vaccines are the most heavily regulated products on the planet and we would like to keep it that way because you are trying to save human lives," reminds Nagpal.
He said he wouldn't give the vaccine to his kids or his patients, because Russia cut too many corners for him to trust it.
"If the vaccine doesn't work, or god forbid it has more side effects or it leads to more complications, then you have done more harm then good," he said.
Doctor Nagpal said for him to trust any vaccine he needs to see all trail phases complete with safety and efficacy, and on a much larger scale.