MOSCOW: Russia has started manufacturing its new vaccine for COVID-19, the Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, citing the health ministry.
Russia has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month. Some scientists said they fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.
The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957, has yet to complete its final trials.
The Russian vaccine’s approval comes before trials that would normally involve thousands of participants, commonly known as Phase III. Such trials are usually considered essential precursors for a vaccine to secure regulatory approval.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had been administered to one of his daughters.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko had earlier rejected safety concerns aired by some experts over Moscow’s rapid approval of the drug as “groundless”.
On the other hand, Vietnam has registered to buy the vaccine from Russia.
Vietnam has signed up for 50 million-150 million doses of the vaccine, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Some will be a “donation” from Russia, Tuoi Tre said, with Vietnam paying for the rest.