Putin Pulls an 'August Surprise' With His COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Announcement

Researchers and public health authorities around the world are alarmed by the speed and possible political motivation of the Russian vaccine timeline


Russian President Vladimir Putin announced today that Russia has won the global race to be the first country to produce and officially register an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Putin also said that one of his daughters was a vaccine test subject who experienced a couple of days of fever after being inoculated but is now feeling well.

The absence of publicly available data and the speed with which the vaccine has been approved have alarmed researchers and public health authorities around the world. "This is a reckless and foolish decision. Mass vaccination with an improperly tested vaccine is unethical," declares University College London geneticist Francois Balloux in Nature. "Any problem with the Russian vaccination campaign would be disastrous both through its negative effects on health, but also because it would further set back the acceptance of vaccines in the population."

"If they get it wrong it could undermine the entire global enterprise," agrees Baylor College of Medicine vaccine scientist Peter Hotez also in Nature. "Not sure what Russia is up to, but I certainly would not take a vaccine that hasn't been tested in Phase III," said Florian Krammer, an immunologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, in a tweet. "Nobody knows if it's safe or if it works. They are putting [health-care workers] and their population at risk."

The vaccine has been dubbed "Sputnik V," as an homage to another global technological victory by Russia's Soviet predecessor state, the launching of the first orbital satellite Sputnik in 1957. Developed by the state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, the viral vector vaccine uses a common cold virus that is engineered to carry selected coronavirus genes as the way to provoke an appropriate immune response. So far Russian researchers have not published any scientific data regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Russian officials have reportedly suggested that mass inoculation focusing first on health care workers and teachers would start as early as October. Russian media also announced that the government had received requests from 20 different countries for the production of 1 billion doses of the vaccine.

U.S. biotech and pharmaceutical companies are rushing at warp speed to develop and deploy safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Some commentators have worried that President Donald Trump might try to pressure the Food and Drug Administration into approving a coronavirus vaccine before it's ready as an "October surprise" to boost his chances in a tight election. "This just cannot be allowed to happen," declared National Institutes of Health head Francis Collins on CNN today. Be that as it may, Vanderbilt University vaccine expert William Schaffner observed that Trump "has thrown the usual manual of how to function in a pandemic out the window" and Putin seems to be writing a new one.

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  1. Wait, there was a manual of how to function in a pandemic?

    1. This is essentially what I came here to write.

      My thoughts are that Trump did no such thing. Every other pandemic we’ve seen this century had exactly ZERO reaction.

      It’s the media that changed the playbook by manufacturing chaos and helping to both justify destroying the economy, as well as provide cover for those doing it.

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    3. More like a guideline.
      But only Sweden read it.

    4. 1. Quarantine everyone.
      2. Introduce a virulent respiratory disease into nursing homes.
      3. Violate the Bill of Rights
      4. Crash the economy
      5. Turn a blind eye to any peaceful protests

  2. I see nothing wrong with their anticipating their phase 3 trials will be a success since groups in other countries are are operating under the same assumption. Looks like a case of vaccine envy to me.

    1. Don’t be shocked when there’s a sudden spike in motorcycle accidents among test subjects.

      1. Or they fall casually out of the window of their khrushchyovka.

    2. Historically, success in phase 3 has been about 50%. It’s a coin flip.

  3. I volunteer Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as test subjects.

    1. If Joe is the test subject, we’re going to end up concluding that the vaccine causes brain damage.

      1. Disagree. Damage is done. Won’t be noticed.

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  5. It’s gonna be an entertaining winter this year.

    1. Sorry, due to global climate warning change, winter has been cancelled.

  6. Some commentators have worried that President Donald Trump might try to pressure the Food and Drug Administration into approving a coronavirus vaccine before it’s ready as an “October surprise” to boost his chances in a tight election.

    Oh look, it’s a big pile of innuendo used for the purposes of fearmongering.
    Its also tips us off that those same commentators {{who?}} would hate it if an effective vaccine saved lives and the economy if it benefits Trump. OrangeManBad is an evil philosophy.

  7. Well, folks, there it is. Right out there in the open for all to see.
    Russian interference in the 2020 election.

  8. 1. What is the meaning of “August” surprise? Just because it happens to be August? If so, lame.

    2. Russia has done the world a huge favor by making everyone highly skeptical of any vaccine for Covid19 and the likely political and other shenanigans underlying future “breakthroughs”.

  9. Is Putin going to try this vaccine himself?

    1. No need. It’ll be mandatory for all Russians, and he’ll be safe via herd immunity.

  10. Pharmaceutical companies across the land are weeping. Not because a Russian vaccine may cost some lives. But because it may cost Big Pharma money.

    As I stated in a previous thread, there has never been a vaccine for a corona virus (to my knowledge). I’m highly skeptical the Russians have developed one in record time. Just like I’m highly skeptical anyone will develop one.

    St Anthony Fauci said he’d be ok with a vaccine that was 50% effective. Wondering how close the Russians got to that.

    1. 50% would be more than effective enough if given to enough people

      1. hell, we could get something not that far from 50% by exposing everyone to random colds, apparently

    2. The Russian teams have not published any open source articles so far as I can find. Your guess is as good as anything.

      Thus far most major US research is available.

      Phase one results for the Moderna mRNA vaccine here.

  11. “Nobody knows if it’s safe or if it works. They are putting [health-care workers] and their population at risk.”

    In other words they are sore losers!

  12. Putin invented the first vaccine and the Sochi Olympic village wasn’t built out of cardboard.

  13. Putin also said that one of his daughters was a vaccine test subject who experienced a couple of days of fever after being inoculated but is now feeling well.

    That may be as bad as the natural infection would’ve treated her.

    1. They used raw virus in the “vaccine”.

      1. You know. That would actually be a brilliant idea. Just intentionally infect the young people with the strain of the virus that is already known to not be that deadly. Let them get sick, recover, and wallah. Instant herd immunity. Life moves on.

        1. You guys keep coming up with theories about how there’s a magic bullet. I understand that Trump is dumb enough to ignore a good idea if it was right there on his daughter’s tits, but everyone else interested in the problem? They just haven’t found right rightwing blogs?

          1. You guys keep coming up with theories about how there’s a magic bullet.

            Are you really this stupid?

            That is how ‘live virus’ vaccines work. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s established science. Even that consensus you’re always citing agrees with this. Weak or non-lethal virus or similar virus is injected, body produces antibodies that provide immunity. Bam.

            1. Right, but this wasn’t a live attenuated coronavirus vaccine, but an engineered common cold virus (presumably rhinovirus, but maybe they meant a coronavirus). Rhinovirus doesn’t induce fever.

              1. Why would they use a rhinovirus?

                Coronaviruses account for about 14% of colds now and provide some immunity to covid-19 now.

                Why would the Russians say ‘hey, lets use an unrelated virus!’?

  14. There is no reason to doubt that the Russian vaccine works. I hear it was approved by Trofim Lysenko himself!

  15. The vaccine has been dubbed “Sputnik V,” as an homage to another global technological victory by Russia’s Soviet predecessor state, the launching of the first orbital satellite Sputnik in 1957.

    And the “vaccine” was probably developed with lab equipment from the same era.

  16. I read some research is coming out that says there is no lasting immunity to this COVID virus. I am skeptical, but they are saying that it fades quickly and is not protective after 3-6 months. We’ll know soon – that’s about where we are for people getting re-infected.

    We’ll also know pretty soon just how political the research community has become. We’ve already seen a couple of anti-Trump motivated papers being withdrawn because of actual scientific fraud. The more subtle ” we are really, really trying to find things that spin this whole thing to the advantage of our political side” type of bias slipping in to everything is another matter. I don’t know how you even measure something like that.

    But I can say that our research community has been terrible at science communication on this one. At least, the ones we are hearing.

    There are huge questions that are easy to answer and are not even being publicly asked.

    What happened to flattening the curve? Why are we shutting everything down if the goal is for the curve to be flattened, not to keep everyone from catching it?

    What is the actual case fatality rate? We went from way more contagious than flu and orders of magnitude more deadly than flu to.. what?

    What is the risk to people under 25? We have shut down schools. Why? Where is the science on this?

    Why are we looking to stop all community spread among people who are not vulnerable to severe consequences? How is this helpful? Doesn’t this just maintain a population ready and able to spread the virus exponentially, the opposite of the goal of flattening the curve so that we don’t overwhelm the medical system?

    There are probably 100 really good questions that should be being asked of our research community along these lines. Questions that inform what we should be doing.

    Instead we ask questions like “Do you disagree with Trump?”

    Hell, if you want to go political, shouldn’t the first question be about orders to send covid patients into nursing homes?

    Blaming the media for being a DNC propaganda machine is like blaming a puppy for peeing on the carpet. At this point, that is what they do. But the medical community could easily be focusing their messaging on “how can we get past this?” And they are not. They are focusing on “how can we make sure that nobody catches the virus”, to the extent that they are not focusing on “how do we disagree with Trump”. And that is not an appropriate question for this situation. We clearly are not going to quarantine everyone with Covid. Even if we did, that wouldn’t work long term – we eventually have to trade with the rest of the world, so we’d be chasing our tail forever.

    So somebody should be talking about how to get from here to a place where we can begin functioning.

    Sweden is doing it. They never shut down. And they did better than New York. New York also looks like they might be past the need to shut everything down in order to avoid overwhelming the hospital system (because enough people got sick the first run through when they didn’t do anything right).

    Are we going to learn anything from this experience? Are we even gong to try? Are our medical experts even going to be able to entertain the thought of “how do we get everyone back to normal?” Or are they going to be constrained by personal political biases?

    We have seen some shoddy medical research from people politically motivated on the right as well. And a few fairly goofy pronouncements.

    The lesson should not be “Conservatives are anti-science” or “Progressives are subverting science for political gain”. The lesson should be “keep politics out of science”.

    But I don’t think anyone is learning any lessons at all these days, political, scientific, ethical…. they don’t seem to be interested in learning at all.

    1. For those who didn’t make the connection….

      Lack of lasting immunity to COVID would be bad in many ways – but one would be that it would make an effective vaccine very unlikely. Either that, or you’d need frequent boosters.

      1. These claims are derived from the fact that the antibodies fade over time. But antibodies fade over time for all diseases; that doesn’t mean immunity is gone. The body retains the ability to make more.

        Immunity persists.

    2. Only one question should matter to you: what gives you the right to give a child a fucking virus? To boost the economy? Did you people ever even have principles?

      1. Ask China.

        1. “Hello China? Calling China. Can someone answer?”

          “Whom do wish to speak to in China?”

          “Well, how many of you are there? I have a question.”

          “Around 1.4 billion. How may I connect you?”


      2. What gives you the right to shut down the economy? To starve a child? Do you ever even have principles?

      3. Only an idiot would think of it that way.

        If that is your standard for opening a school, then you would never under any circumstances open a school. There are literally millions of pathogens out there. Hundreds of coronaviruses even. Dozens of different influenza strains that are all more dangerous to children than COVID-19. There are Noroviruses that can cause serious problems for some children. Not to mention things like measles that are making a comeback.

        At any rate, the point was “these are the questions”, not “these are the answers”. You cannot get to the correct solution if you cannot even ask the correct question. We are still in the “not asking the right questions” phase of problem solving. That was excusable in the early days…. but even 3 months in it was inexcusable. Now? It beggars belief.

      4. >>what gives you the right to give a child a fucking virus?

        flu shots.

      5. Tony, here is a long list of vaccines that are recommended be given to children:
        “vaccine that protects against Hepatitis B”
        1 to 2 months:
        “ Hepatitis B (2nd dose)
        Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP)
        Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
        Polio (IPV)
        Pneumococcal (PCV)
        Rotavirus (RV)”
        4 months:
        “ Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP)
        Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
        Polio (IPV)
        Pneumococcal (PCV)
        Rotavirus (RV)
        Hepatitis B (HepB)”
        6 months:
        “ Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP)
        Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
        Polio (IPV)
        Pneumococcal (PCV)
        Rotavirus (RV)
        Influenza (flu)”
        And so on – they have recommendations all the way 60 and older, though technically your rhetorical question applies only to those under 18.
        You might also want to review the history of “pox parties” as well as “measles parties” among other past (and sometimes current) gatherings wherein parents deliberately exposed their children to diseases. Their motivations were likely simple: like most diseases, they were inevitable. So better the young should get them on a controlled schedule within a known environment than at some random time.

  17. On one hand I find it hard to trust the NIH, on the other hand I find it hard to trust put in. What the opposite of softies choice where you want both to die

  18. Shocking that, when our sainted “experts” tell us that WE MUST TAKE DRASTIC MEASURES UNTIL AN EFFECTIVE VACCINE IS AVAILABLE NO MATTER WHAT, then people are more willing to take and accept drastic shortcuts to make that happen. Sure, Russia isn’t the US, but even here we are seeing protocols for development of something like this being pushed to the limit to get it through ASAP. Is that a good idea? I would think not, for the virus itself- given what we know about the risks of the virus (very low in the grand scheme of things), it doesn’t seem to justify adding much if any risk to a vaccine which already inherently carries some low level of risk. However, the economic and social risks of indefinite extreme precautions are very real, very severe, and affect everyone in the world. If a “cure” is the only way to end that, as our “leaders” appear to be saying now, then by damn society is going to take extreme measures to get one. Thus, one could almost look at this as a race not so much to develop a vaccine for coronavirus but a vaccine for coronavirus paranoia. And while the former does not pose much risk, the latter is destroying the world.

    Meanwhile, the medical elites simply sit back befuddled. “You cannot have anything approaching your normal life until a vaccine is available, end of discussion,” they say. But then when people react as logic dictates and say, OK, let’s hammer one through so we can go back to living the elites shriek in horror: “No no no no! These vaccines and treatments must be developed the way WE think is best, on the timeline that WE say! And let me be clear, that will be years. Why is it so hard for you rubes to sit at home with your masks on and live life via Zoom like us? We’re saving the world, goddammit! We don’t care if you’re missing your tractor pulls!”

  19. I’m alarmed because we don’t create cold virus defeating vaccines.

  20. Will Pelosi and Schiff be pushing for global Putin vaccination programs?

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