In a major breakthrough in coronavirus treatment, Russia has developed the world's first vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine has been named "Sputnik V" after the Soviet Union's first satellite launched in 1957.
Confirming the development, Russia President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said that the vaccine works "quite effectively" and forms a "stable cell and antibody immunity" against the disease as he disclosed that one of his daughters has already been vaccinated. He said that his daughter had tested a Russian COVID-19 vaccine on herself and that she is feeling well.
"A vaccine against coronavirus has been registered for the first time in the world this morning," the state-run Tass news agency quoted Putin as saying.
"I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity," Putin said during a meeting with members of his government.
Clinical trials of the vaccine started on June 18 and included 38 volunteers. All of the participants developed immunity. The first group was discharged on July 15, the second group on July 20. The vaccine is yet to go through crucial Phase-3 trials where it would be administered to thousands of people.
Kirill Dmitriyev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that finances the vaccine project, has said that Russia has received a request for the production of one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from 20 nations. While several Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian countries have expressed an interest in purchasing the Russian vaccine, several contracts have been finalised, he said.
"We have received preliminary requests for the purchase of over 1 billion doses of the vaccine from 20 states. We are ready to ensure production of over 500 million vaccine doses along with our foreign partners in five countries, and we plan to increase our production capacity further," he said during an online conference.
He confirmed that that the RDIF had agreed to hold the third stage of clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine abroad with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other states.
Last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had reportedly urged Russia to follow international norms for producing a vaccine against COVID-19. It may be noted that the Russian vaccine is not among the WHO's list of six vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials, which involve more widespread testing in humans.
By Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs