Coronavirus

Russia to roll out Covid-19 vaccine for citizens in September

Gamaleya Institute director Alexandr Ginzburg told state news agency RIA Nóvosti that the voluntary mass vaccination program will start in September.

Russia to roll out Covid-19 vaccine for citizens in September
RDIF HANDOUT EFE

Russia’s plans to offer a mass Covid-19 vaccination program to its citizens after the announcement that the country had created the first drug to counter the novel coronavirus could start as soon as next month, the director of Moscow’s Nikolai Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, where the vaccine was developed, said on Sunday. 

President Vladimir Putin told reporters an 11 August that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine and went on to say one of his daughters had been administered the drug, known as Sputnik V. 

The World Health Organization also said it was in discussions with Russia over the process for possible WHO prequalification for the vaccine. 

Huge Moscow vaccine trial in "seven to 10 days" 

Russia has produced the first batch of Sputnik V, the Interfax news agency quoted the health ministry as saying on Saturday, hours after the ministry reported the start of manufacturing.

The mass vaccination program will start after a short delay due to the fact that the majority of the vaccines that have so far been produced are being used in studies. After that, the rest will be designated for the population,” Gamaleya Institute director Alexandr Ginzburg told state news agency RIA Nóvosti. 

Ginzburg said that in seven to 10 days’ time, following its approval by the health ministry, a larger Phase III trial involving thousands of participants would be rolled out. “The Moscow Department of Health plans to include among these tens of thousands people those doctors working in the red zone [where patients with severe Covid-19 are treated],” Ginzberg added. “And that is absolutely the correct decision.” 

Ginzberg said that trials of Sputnik V were expected to last from four to six weeks but that would not serve as an impediment to the mass vaccination program, which the Russian authorities have stated will be entirely voluntary.