Russia says first batch of COVID-19 vaccine ready in two weeks

Russia said on Wednesday the first batch of its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine would be ready within two weeks and rejected safety concerns over its rapid approval as ‘groundless’.

The country’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, said the vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Institute, would be administered on a voluntary basis.

“It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that in our opinion are completely groundless,” Murashkosaid, the day after president Vladimir Putin announced it had won regulatory approval.

The vaccine has not yet completed its final trials.

Only about 10% of clinical trials are successful and some scientists fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.

The WHO has not received enough information on the Russian COVID-19 vaccine to evaluate it, according to Jarbas Barbosa, assistant director of its Americas branch, the PAHO.

Worldwide coronavirus cases have surpassed 20 million, with Brazil and Mexico reporting a combined 27,000 infections in just one day. More than 12.4 million have recovered, and more than 744,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.