The country became the first in the world to approve a possible vaccine against the virus, despite warnings from the global authorities against cutting corners.
MOSCOW — Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though global health authorities say the vaccine has yet to complete critical, late-stage clinical trials to determine its safety and effectiveness.
Mr. Putin, who told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning that the vaccine “works effectively enough,” said that his own daughter had taken it. And in a congratulatory note to the nation, he thanked the scientists who developed the vaccine for “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”
The major powers are locked in a global race for a vaccine that President Trump, Mr. Putin and China’s president, Xi Jinping, are treating as a proxy war for their personal leadership and competing national systems. The United States, with an effort called Operation Warp Speed, and China have poured billions into the pursuit, and health officials worry that Russia is trying to snatch a victory by cutting corners.
By skipping large-scale clinical trials, the Russian dash for a vaccine has raised widespread concern that it is circumventing vital steps — and potentially endangering people — in order to score global propaganda points.
Russia’s vaccine sped through early monkey and human trials with apparent success. But Moscow was cautioned just last week by the World Health Organization not to stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and efficacy.
Beyond that, the United States, Canadian and British governments have all accused Russian state hackers of trying to steal vaccine research. Russian officials have denied the accusations, and say their vaccine is based on a design developed years ago by Russian scientists to counter the Ebola virus.
A vaccine is seen as the most likely avenue for defeating the novel coronavirus and alleviating a worldwide health crisis that has killed at least 734,900 people and decimated national economies. Western regulators have said repeatedly that they do not expect a vaccine to become widely available before the end of the year at the earliest.
Around the world, more than 30 vaccines — out of a total of more than 165 under development — are now in various stages of human trials. Currently, eight vaccines have entered the final phase of mass human testing, including ones produced by Moderna in the United States, Oxford University and AstraZeneca in Britain and several Chinese companies.
Some of those Chinese companies have been accused of cutting corners themselves. One offered the vaccine to employees at the national oil company, while another has teamed up with the People’s Liberation Army to conduct human trials.
In Russia, the minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, has said the country will begin a mass vaccination campaign in the fall, and said on Tuesday that it would start with teachers and medical workers this month.
In Moscow, the announcement was greeted with a mixture of national pride and nagging doubts by Russians who have been schooled by experience to treat such boasts with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Lidiya Ivleva, 70, a retired nurse out for a walk in a Moscow park Tuesday afternoon, embodied both sentiments. While calling the vaccine “a great achievement” for Russian scientists, she said she would not rush to get it herself because of the “hasty” testing.
“Those who fear the pandemic more will take it first, and good for them,” she said. If in a year or so it is clearly shown to be safe, she said, then she will reconsider.
Vaccines generally go through three stages of human testing before being approved for widespread use. The first two phases test the vaccine on relatively small groups of people to see if it causes harm and stimulates the immune system. The last phase, known as Phase 3, compares the vaccine to a placebo in tens of thousands of people.
The Russian scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase 3 trials.
That final phase, however, is the only way to know with statistical certainty whether a vaccine can prevent an infection, and how effective it is. And because it tests a much larger group of people, a Phase 3 trial can also detect more subtle adverse effects of a vaccine that earlier trials could not.
Experts warn that, among other things, a faulty vaccine could actually render those inoculated more vulnerable to severe forms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, a potential disaster that can be ruled out only through extensive testing on human volunteers.
The Russian vaccine uses two strains of adenovirus that typically cause mild colds in humans. Scientists genetically modified them to cause infected cells to make proteins from the spike of the new coronavirus, officials have said.
The approach is similar to the one used in a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that is now undergoing Phase III tests in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.
The W.H.O. is in close contact with the Russian authorities and discussing proper procedures, Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesman for the organization, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday. But he emphasized that obtaining the organization’s seal of approval would require “rigorous review of safety and efficacy data” derived from clinical trials.
The Russian Ministry of Health did not respond to detailed written questions sent last week about human trials and research into potentially harmful side effects.