Russia produces first batch of covid vaccines, to be given to doctors

Russia on Saturday said it has produced the first batch of its coronavirus vaccine, just days after President Vladimir Putin announced it had been first in the world to approve a vaccine. “The first batch of the novel coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute has been produced,” the health ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

Russia has named the covid vaccine “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957.

On Tuesday, Putin announced that Russia has approved a vaccine against coroanvirus even though clinical trials were not yet complete. He said that the vaccine was safe and one of his daughters had been inoculated.

Russia’s move to approve a vaccine even before the final stage trials has drawn a sceptical response from many scientists.

The Russian covid vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute for epidemiology and microbiology in Moscow in coordination with the Russian defence ministry.

The head of the institute, Alexander Gintsburg, told the TASS state news agency on Saturday that volunteers taking part in the final stage testing of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy would have two inoculations.

Russia has said that mass production of the vaccine is expected from September. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko had earlier said that first batch of covid vaccine would first be made available to doctors and would later be available to all Russians on a voluntary basis.

The volunteers being inoculated in the final stage of the clinical trials of the Russian covid vaccine would not be hospitalized, new agency TASS reported, citing the head the institute that has developed the vaccine. “The volunteers won’t be hospitalized beforehand. All of them will come and go from their homes,” Alexander Ginzberg, head of the Gamaleya institute told TASS said.