Great Britain

Putin tries to get one up on Britain’s Pfizer Covid jab by ordering mass vaccinations from next week too

VLADIMIR Putin is trying to get a one up on Britain's Pfizer Covid-19 jab by ordering mass vaccinations from next week.

Putin's statement today comes hours after Britain became the first country in the West to authorise the use of a Covid-19 vaccine from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech.

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Sputnik V was touted in Russia as the world's first registered coronavirus vaccine after it received regulatory approval in early August.

However, experts criticised the Russian vaccine because at the time it had only been tested on several dozen people.

Putin said Wednesday that more than two million doses of the Sputnik V jab has been produced or will have been produced in the next few days.

"This gives us the opportunity to start if not mass, but large-scale vaccination, and of course, as we agreed, first of all of the two risk groups doctors and teachers," Putin told government officials.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that the vaccination will be voluntary and free of charge.

The two-shot Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute.

An advanced study among 40,000 volunteers was announced two weeks after the vaccine received government approval.

The trial is still ongoing, but the vaccine is already being offered to people in risk groups such as medical workers despite expert warnings against its wider use before it completes all the necessary testing.

Several high-profile officials have said they have already taken it too.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that more than 100,000 people in Russia have been given the shots.

Kirill Dmitriyev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled the development of the jab, added that around 25,000 people have been vaccinated as part of a clinical trial.

Dmitriyev said that outside of the trial, the vaccine was offered to volunteers among medical workers.


Earlier this month, developers of the vaccine said interim analysis of the trial data showed it was 91.4 per cent effective.

The conclusion was based on 39 infections among 18,794 study participants that received both doses of either the vaccine or the placebo.

The data is from a much lower number of tests than Western drugmakers looked at when assessing the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Dmitriyev said that developers of the vaccine have already applied to the European Medicines Agency to get approval of the jab in Europe, as well as in other countries.

"We understand that it may take some time, but we concurrently, you know, have applied for approval in 40 different countries and we are working very closely with regulators in all of those countries," Dmitriyev said.

Dmitriyev said earlier this month that more than one billion doses of the vaccine are expected to be produced next year outside of Russia.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, stressed Wednesday that vaccinating Russians will be the "absolute priority."

Russia has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed Covid-19 infections and deaths regularly hitting new highs and significantly exceeding those reported in the spring.

On Wednesday, Russia has registered a record high number of 589 new coronavirus deaths.

The previous record of 569 deaths was registered yesterday.

The government task force has recorded a total of 41,053 virus-related deaths since the start of the outbreak.

Russia's total of over 2.3 million confirmed cases is currently the fourth-largest in the world. On Wednesday, officials registered 25,345 new infections.

Jonathan Van-Tam tells Brits to 'get on the train' as he hails coronavirus vaccine roll-out

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