COVID vaccinations finally underway
Moscow has begun mass coronavirus vaccinations, despite concerns over the speed with which the vaccine was rushed into development.
The Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 shot was available at 70 clinics, according to the city's coronavirus task force, Reuters reported.
Frontline workers such as doctors and other medical personnel, teachers and social workers were the first to get the jab and more than 5,000 people signed up within the first five hours Friday.
Texts received by some frontline workers read: "You are working at an educational institution and have top-priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge."
Moscow logged a shocking 7,993 new coronavirus cases Friday night, a jump from 6,868 a day before and well above the daily average of around 700 reported in early September.
Russia has had two COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V which is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another from Siberia's Vector Institute.
The mass vaccinations are underway despite concerns from some scientists that full trials to test safety and efficacy have not been completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Russia reported 28,782 new infections Saturday, its highest daily number, and the country has a total of 2,431,731 virus cases, the fourth-highest in the world.
Meanwhile, as Americans shake their heads that the UK is ahead of them in getting a vaccine, a Johns Hopkins professor lambasted the Food and Drug Administration for lacking urgency in greenlighting a coronavirus vaccine, suggesting that the agency's bureaucratic process is costing lives.
"We've had Operation Warp Speed in developing vaccines but Operation Turtle Speed in reviewing the results," Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in the conservative news outlet The Dispatch.
He noted that Pfizer submitted its data on the safety and effectiveness of its vaccine on November 20 but the FDA scheduled its review meeting for its emergency approval application almost three weeks later, December 10.
"As Pfizer's application sits on the shelf at the FDA awaiting authorisation, about 27,000 Americans will have died."
A second company, Moderna, submitted its application for emergency approval for its vaccine on Monday.
The pace of the process has come up before, with the White House questioning the speed of the approval process.
Meanwhile, China's so-called "Bat Woman" scientist has warned bats could be carrying even more deadly coronaviruses that could transmit to humans just like Covid.
Dr Shi Zheng-Li - known as "Bat Woman" for her research - called on experts worldwide to hunt down these infections to stop another potential pandemic.
The scientist warned that bats, particularly in China and South Asia, could be carrying coronaviruses which could mutate and cross over to humans.
She said some the bugs were similar to COVID-19, which is believed to have made the jump at a wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Spreading out from the city like wildfire, almost one year on the coronavirus has gone on to kill 1.5 million people worldwide and infected 66 million.
"We should not only search for them in China, but also in south Asian countries," Dr Shi said.
"We think these viruses have a high risk of interspecies transmission to human."
Dr Shi, from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, believes the coronavirus passed to another animal from bats before eventually reaching humans.
The expert was speaking at a webinar organised by the National Academy of Medicine and the Veterinary Academy of France.
It comes as two teams - one from the Word Health Organization and one organised by the Lancet medical journal - prepare to head to China.
They are tasked with trying to trace the real origins of the pandemic.
Originally published as COVID vaccinations underway