Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday declared that the country was the first nation to approve a coronavirus vaccine which was safe and that one of his own daughters has already been inoculated.
He however said clinical trials were not yet complete and final stage testing involving more than 2,000 people was to start only on Wednesday.
Scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the other hand reacted to Putin’s announcement by saying that it still needed a rigorous safety review. The vaccine has been named ‘Sputnik’ after the Soviet satellite.
Putin has pushed hard for Russia to be the first to announce a vaccine and officials dubbed it “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space.
“This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered” with Russia’s health regulator, Putin told a televised video conference call with government ministers.
“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” he said, adding that one of his two daughters had received the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the Russian defence ministry.
“In this sense she took part in the experiment,” Putin said, adding she had a slight temperature after a second injection and “that’s all”.
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 the vaccine.
The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.