The Russian flag is seen near the Kremlin tower in Moscow, Russia, on March 16, 2018. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The Russian government said Thursday it will begin clinical trials next week for its already-registered COVID-19 vaccine and it will involve tens of thousands of human subjects.
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, told reporters the trials will be done in several countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He said the trials will involve 40,000 humans.
Dmitriev also said Russia hopes to have detailed scientific data published in a major journal sometime this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this month that Moscow had registered the "Sputnik V" vaccine and said he'd even administered it to one of his daughters. The announcement was met with surprise and skepticism in the medical community, as the vaccine had not been put through late-stage clinical trials, which is a key phase for any vaccine development.
The World Health Organization said Thursday it has begun discussions with Russia about testing the vaccine.
"This concern that we have around safety and efficacy is not specifically for the Russia vaccine, it's for all of the vaccines under development," said Catherine Smallwood, WHO Europe's senior emergency official. "It's essential we don't cut corners in safety or efficacy."
"The end of the pandemic will be the day when everyone of us will take the responsibility and have been learning how to behave with the virus," WHO Europe Regional Director Hans Kluge cautioned. "And that depends on us, that day can even be tomorrow."
Moscow has not yet released any scientific data associated with the Sputnik V vaccine and most experts continue to be skeptical of its safety or ability to ward off the coronavirus.