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Photo: Alexey Druzhini/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that his country has registered a coronavirus vaccine and said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated, AP reports.

Why it matters: Scientists around the world are skeptical about Russia's claims. There is no published scientific data to back up Putin's claims that Russia has a viable vaccine — or that it produces any sort of immunity without significant side effects.

  • A Russian vaccine has not gone through any phase three trials, which are lengthy and involve thousands of participants for testing.
  • Experts caution that introducing a vaccine to the population without widespread testing could have serious negative consequences, including unexpected side effects or simply undermining public trust in their efficacy.

What he said: "I know it has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity, and I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests," Putin told a news conference.

  • He claimed his daughter is "feeling well and has high number of antibodies."

The state of play: The vaccine race has become a competition between rival global powers. Getting the first viable coronavirus vaccine would be a boon for Russia's international prestige, which Putin is desperate to bolster.

  • According to the U.S, U.K. and Canada, hackers linked to Russian military intelligence have attempted to steal vaccine research in order to aid their own efforts.
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted that the announcement "may be another effort to stoke doubts or goad [the U.S.] into forcing early action on our vaccines." He also told CNBC that he "wouldn't take it."

The big picture: There are three vaccines worldwide — one each from the U.S., U.K. and China — that have entered or are headed toward phase three trials.

  • There are at least 16 other vaccines currently in clinical trials in Australia, France, Germany, India, Russia, South Korea, the U.K., the U.S. and China.
  • Experts are increasingly confident that it's no longer a question of if but when vaccines will eventually be available.
  • But they caution that we won't know how effective they are in protecting against COVID-19 — and for how long — until after phase three trials are completed.

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2020 - Health

Pfizer says latest data shows its coronavirus vaccine is safe and 95% effective

Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Pfizer said on Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective and has no serious side effects.

The state of play: The company said they have enough safety data now and plan to request an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration "within days."

Nov 18, 2020 - Health

Over a quarter-million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The United States topped 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday as infections soar in nearly every pocket of every state in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: The sharp rise in the number of cases and fatalities has accelerated calls for government action. Wednesday's news exceeded infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci's March prediction in which he said "we should be prepared" that COVID-19 could kill 240,000 Americans.

Updated Nov 18, 2020 - Health

FDA approves first coronavirus test for self-testing at home

Laura Robles, 14, takes a swab at a COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles on Nov. 11. The Lucira test kit is a nasal swab to be used by people aged 14 or older. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration announced in a post Tuesday night that it has issued an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 test for self-testing at home — and it returns rapid results.

Why it matters: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are accelerating across the U.S. This rapid home test could help reduce testing delays.