A Russian vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready for its final stage of testing as early as August, according to the head of the centre carrying out the trials. Russia’s Sechenov University says the first trials are over and the vaccine has been shown to be safe. But more tests are needed before it can be put to use.

It’s less than a month since Russia’s Sechenov University began the first phase of testing on 38 healthy paid volunteers. It said that some of them suffered headaches and fevers in the first 24 hours after being injected with the potential vaccine, but their symptoms soon resolved. Now, the scientists say that the vaccine has been shown to be safe, and the volunteers are being discharged from hospital. They will continue to be monitored as outpatients.

But this is just the first phase of testing, and one that other vaccines around the world had already achieved. The researchers still have to prove that their vaccine works as protection against COVID-19. They say that preliminary results are positive, but they haven’t released the data yet.

The head of the research centre told Russian media that the next stage of trials has already begun, and if it goes well, the vaccine could be submitted for approval by national health authorities as early as August. He said it could then be offered to people in the general population, which would be equivalent to the usual third phase of testing, as those who receive it would be kept under supervision.

But it’s too early to say if this vaccine is the silver bullet that many people have been waiting for. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 19 different vaccine trials around the world. Just two of them have reached the third and final stages of testing so far – one by China’s Sinopharm and another by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

In the video below, Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for testing in August: