Sputnik V, the first batches of Russia’s Covid vaccine Sputnik V has been made available “civil circulation” in capital Moscow, state media reported on Thursday.
While details on the process were not immediately available, Russia has repeatedly stressed on producing the vaccine at the earliest, a belief met with international scepticism.
Earlier this month, the Russian health ministry had said that batches of the Covid-19 vaccine were being produced for public distribution and would be supplied to different regions soon.
“The first batch of the vaccine for preventing the novel coronavirus infection, Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik V) developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry passed the required quality tests in the laboratories of Roszdravnadzor (the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare) and was produced for civilian circulation. In the near future the supplies of the first batches of the vaccine to the regions are expected,” the ministry had said.
Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko had previously said that civilian production at this stage meant vaccination of citizens from the risk groups, namely teachers and doctors, which will be carried out simultaneously with post-registration clinical trials.
As the world races to find a cure for coronavirus, vaccine developers around the world are compressing years of development into months, raising the possibility of unexpected consequences.
Developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with Russia’s sovereign fund RDIF, Sputnik V became the first Covid vaccine candidate in the world to receive government approval for use before completing large-scale human trials.
After receiving regulatory approval amid global concern, the vaccine proceeded with advanced trials.
Large-scale trials of the ‘Sputnik-V’ vaccine, known as Phase III trials, are ongoing in Russia and involve at least 40,000 people.
“Initial results are expected in October or November, Kirill Dmitriev,” head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), has said.
Late-stage clinical trials of the Sputnik V vaccine could also begin in India in the coming weeks as the RDIF has struck a deal with Indian pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd.
The news of the Sputnik V Covid vaccine entering civil circulation comes as new cases of Covid-19 in Russia have risen to 6,595 on Thursday. This is the biggest rise in over two months, and new infections in Moscow surpassed 1,000 for the first time since late June.
Russia’s plan to roll-out its “Sputnik-V” Covid-19 vaccine even before full trials to show how well it works is prompting concern among virus experts, who warn a partially effective shot may encourage the novel coronavirus to mutate.