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Russian, US scientists jointly study fundamental aspects of COVID-19 vaccine — academician

In Chekhonin’s opinion, a vaccine against COVID-19 should be expected by the start of the next year

MOSCOW, May 7. /TASS/. Scientists from Russia and several Western nations cooperate in solving the fundamental problems of creating a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Vice President Vladimir Chekhonin told TASS.

"As far as fundamental aspects of the vaccine production are concerned, we cooperate closely with a huge number of front-rank specialists both in America and Europe. We have mutual understanding," he said.

"As far as production aspects are concerned - this is a matter of business. <...> One should keep in mind that it’s not a matter of scientific cooperation, it’s a matter of business and scientific teams have absolutely nothing to do with it," the expert continued.

In Chekhonin’s opinion, a vaccine against COVID-19 should be expected by the start of the next year or so. Although some countries might get it earlier and others - a bit later, the timeframes will be largely similar worldwide.

He reiterated that several Russian organizations - both state-and privately owned, are already developing prototypes of the vaccine.

In late April, the World Health Organization included nine Russian vaccine prototypes into its list of promising options. These include six vaccines created by the Novosibirsk-based Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, two vaccines developed by the Biocad company and a vaccine made by the St. Petersburg Research Institute of Vaccines and Serums.

Overcoming the pandemic

According to the Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the decline in COVID-19 cases in Russia will be slow.

"I don’t think that the decline [in new cases] will be rapid. Although the epidemic process will probably lose its epidemic ‘structure,’ it will still be in place probably until mid-August. This is an opinion of leading epidemiologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, with whom we had relevant discussions. This is an ambiguous point of view, there’s also an opinion that this period might be shorter and end by early August. There is also a group of specialists who believe that we would keep fighting the disease throughout August," Chekhonin told TASS.

He went on to say that the Russian government heeds the advice of scientists and experts and promptly responds to COVID-19-related developments.

"The government makes decisions related to the novel coronavirus infection in an extremely promt manner, in some cases relevant decrees are ready within a few hours. For comparison: earlier, it took several weeks. The government listens to us, experts," the scientist said.

He also said the government renders all possible assistance to scientists in their effort to develop new medicines, vaccines and testing kits.

In late December 2019, Chinese officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 3,700,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 258,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 1,200,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, a total of 165,929 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 21,327 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 1,537 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.