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Russia produces first batch of Covid-19 vaccine: Ministry

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MOSCOW: Russia said on Saturday it has produced the first batch of its coronavirus vaccine, after President Vladimir Putin announced that it had been the first in the world to approve a vaccine.
Putin’s announcement on Tuesday about the vaccine was greeted with caution by scientists and the World Health Organization, who said it still needed a rigorous safety review.
“The first batch of the new coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute has been produced,” the Health Ministry said in a statement cited by Russian news agencies.
Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated, although clinical trials were not yet complete and end-stage trials involving more than 2,000 people only began this week.
Western scientists were skeptical, with some warning that moving too fast on a vaccine could be dangerous, but Russia denounced the criticism as an attempt to undermine Moscowthe investigation.
The Russian vaccine is named “Sputnik V” in honor of the Soviet-era satellite that was first launched into space in 1957.
It was developed by the Gamaleya Microbiology and Epidemiology Research Institute in Moscow in coordination with the Russian defense ministry.
The institute’s director, Alexander Gintsburg, told the state news agency TASS on Saturday that volunteers participating in the final-stage test of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy would have two inoculations.
Russia has said that industrial production is expected from September and that it plans to make 5 million doses per month by December or January.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said this week that the vaccine would first be made available to doctors and then made available to all Russians on a voluntary basis.
With more than 917,000 confirmed infections, the number of coronavirus cases in Russia is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.
Russia currently has 92,000 people hospitalized with the virus and 2,900 in intensive care, according to the Health Ministry.

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