Russia has become the first country in the world to register a vaccine against COVID-19, President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday, adding that one of his daughters had been vaccinated against the virus.
The vaccine is named ‘Sputnik V’ in reference to the 1957 launch of a Soviet satellite, which opened space to exploration by humans. The vaccine has been developed jointly by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which finances the vaccine project, is also investing in mass production of this vaccine and has set up a website that has information about the vaccine.
According to the RDIF, at least 20 countries have expressed interest in obtaining the Sputnik V, including India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico and Brazil.
It says the plan is to ramp up vaccine production to 200 million doses by the end of 2020, including 30 million doses in Russia. The vaccine still has to complete final trials and thus raises concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval.
Kirill Dmitriyev, the head of the RDIF, said that phase 3 trials would start on Wednesday and industrial production was expected from September.
Many Western media outlets and politicians questioned the high speed of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine creation, expressing concerns about its efficacy and authenticity. On the other hand, Dmitriyev has said the secret behind this success is the country’s expertise in vaccine research.