After Great Britain gave emergency authorization to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin has ordered mass immunization against COVID-19 as Russia races to reverse a surge in coronavirus cases and be the first in the world to distribute its vaccine widely.
With the fourth-largest number of cases in the world but per capita health care spending far lower than in most Western countries, Russia needs a vaccine.
“It’s just a race to make news when our speakers say there’s demand for another 100 million doses,” said Alexey Repik, whose R-Pharm Group has signed on to produce Sputnik V. “We don’t have enough vaccine to cover our own needs yet.”
Meanwhile, Putin is pushing ahead, ordering an advertising campaign to help Russians choose which vaccine to use. Putin touted the shot in a speech to the United Nations, offering to provide it for free to the organization’s staff worldwide. Despite the hype, Putin hasn’t tried the vaccine himself. Visitors must quarantine before meeting him face-to-face or sit at a distance in official events.
To deploy future COVID-19 vaccines around the world, would need to see results from a full, properly powered efficacy and safety trial along with regulatory review to “engage” on Russia’s vaccine.
“But we are talking to them,” he said, “and whether they have a product that will ultimately be useful or not. I think will have to be told by the science, not by the politics.” said Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance