Putin’s plan for the Russian coronavirus vaccine is the risk of backfiring, says expert

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss situation in Syria.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin is trying to score “a domestic gain” with Russia’s planned outbreak of coronavirus vaccine, after the country’s outbreak was mismanaged and the economy did not recover, an expert said on Wednesday.

Claiming to be the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world, Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia’s vaccine “works fairly effectively” and “has passed all necessary checks.” His claim that skepticism has drawn from scientists and public health officials.

“Let’s be very blunt here: Putin needs a profit, he needs a domestic profit,” J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at Think Tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia. “

“He has mismanaged the outbreak within his own territory, he has lost public confidence and confidence in his efforts, his economy is on the back end, he cannot deliver on any of the great costly public infrastructure projects he has promised in the last election campaign, “he added.

This is a case where Russia is cutting corners for big gains, big gains domestically and – they hope – internationally.

J. Stephen Morrison

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Russia has reported more than 895,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease and more than 15,100 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon in Asia, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The country’s cumulative infections are the fourth highest in the world behind the US, Brazil and India, data from Hopkins showed.

Like many other experts, Morrison questioned the speed at which Russia was testing its vaccine. Clinical trials were completed in less than two months and more extensive “phase three” tests are only set to begin on Wednesday. There should be no published data from previous trials, so that the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine remain unclear.

Still, Russia has announced that full production would begin next month.

“This is a case in which Russia is cutting corners for big gains, big gains domestically and – they hope – internationally,” Morrison said.

“It’s high risk. This is a big risk of backfiring, especially if there is adverse impact and if they try to cover it. And these are not the normal rules of the road, and that causes a lot of inconvenience.”

With the fax, Putin is trying to evoke the long-awaited “golden days” of Russian science and immunology, said Morrison, who is also director of CSIS ‘Global Health Policy Center.

The Russian president has also sold the vaccine to other countries, including the Philippines, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, according to Morrison. That could be that Putin is “playing on the fear” among low- and middle-income countries that they will lose to rich nations with the resources to snatch faxes produced by large global pharmaceutical companies, he explained.

– Holly Ellyatt of CNBC contributed to this report.