MOSCOW: Russia has named its first approved COVID-19 vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ for foreign markets, a reference to the world’s first satellite and what Moscow sees as its success at becoming the first country to approve a vaccine, a top official said on Tuesday.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the country’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund, said Russia had already received requests from more than 20 countries for 1 billion doses of its newly-registered COVID-19 vaccine.
He was speaking after President Vladimir Putin announced the approval after less than two months of human testing.
The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some international scientists to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety.
Earlier, while speaking at a government meeting on state television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.
“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.
He said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.
Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.
Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.
Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines will not compromise safety. But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine.