President Vladimir Putin said Russia cleared the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for use and hopes to begin mass inoculation soon, even before clinical testing has finished.
“The first registration has taken place,” Putin said Tuesday at a televised government meeting, adding that one of his daughters has already been given the vaccine.
“I hope that we can soon begin mass production,” he added.
The move paves the way for widespread use of the vaccine among Russia’s population, with production starting next month, although it may take until January to complete trials. Medical workers could begin receiving the drug by the end of the month, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said at the meeting.
The vaccine, known as “Sputnik-V” was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, and its mass production has already begun at AFK Sistema’s Binnopharm pharmaceutical factory. The total output of the drug is expected to reach 500 million doses in the first 12 months.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced Wednesday that the first batch of the long-awaited vaccine will be produced and ready for use in 2 weeks.
“Today, quality control tests are underway. Within two weeks, the first batch of the drug will be released and will be delivered for vaccination of medics in health risk groups”.
He stressed the vaccination will be voluntary for everybody, including medics, adding that a special tracing app is now in development which will allow Russian citizens to confirm the state of their health. The app will also monitor possible adverse effects of the drug for those who took the vaccine.
Murashko said that the vaccine will be primarily used to meet demand within Russia, but didn't rule out exporting the drug. He also noted that criticism of the vaccine abroad is baseless and is caused by the fear of fair competition.
“Foreign colleagues, who, apparently, felt a certain competition, saw the advantages of the Russian drug, are now trying to express some opinions, which, in our view, are absolutely baseless,” he said.
The Minister said that the vaccine’s platform was previously used to produce drugs and underlined it is the safest way, picked after multiple trials.
The Russian authorities earlier said that the Gamaleya vaccine’s two-stage plan could provide immunity against the coronavirus for up to two years.