Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday expressed hope for the country’s speedy approval of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine by the World Health Organization, saying the move is necessary to expand global supplies.
Speaking during a video call with Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Putin said that getting the WHO’s vetting is necessary to spread the Russian vaccine more widely around the world, including free Supplies are also included.
The Russian leader also argued that the WHO approval should open the door for Russians and others who have the Sputnik V vaccine to travel more freely around the world.
Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V in the spring, and last month he received a booster shot of Sputnik Lite, a one-dose version. He also said that he took an experimental nasal version of Sputnik V a few days after receiving his booster shot, adding that he was feeling fine and not experiencing any side effects.
The Gamleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, said the vaccine should be efficient against omicron type of COVID-19, but announced that it would immediately start working on adapting it to counter the new version.
Russia was the first country in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, launching Sputnik V in August 2020 and it was in plentiful supply. But the pace has been slow, attributed to conflicting signals from Russian officials.
Russia has suffered its deadliest and biggest surge of coronavirus cases in recent months, with infections and deaths climbing to all-time highs and only slowing in the past few weeks. According to the government’s coronavirus task force, more than 281,000 people have been confirmed as pandemics in Russia. But a report released Friday by the state statistics agency Rosstat, which uses broader criteria, put the total number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 at more than 537,000 _ almost double the official toll.
Putin, who has repeatedly argued that vaccination should remain voluntary despite a rise in infections in Russia, stressed on Sunday that Russian officials have been trying to use “persuasion and not pressure” and “prejudices and myths”. Vaccination has been motivated to remove it.”
Russia’s quick approval of the Sputnik V drew criticism abroad, as it had only been tested on a few dozen people at the time. But a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet in February showed that Sputnik V is 91% effective and prevents vaccinated individuals from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19.
Russia actively promoted Sputnik V around the world but faced obstacles in shipping the promised amount. Countries in Latin America have complained about delays in receiving the second Sputnik V shot.
The World Health Organization is reviewing data about Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine as part of the approval process. Such approval could pave the way to join the COVAX program which is sending COVID-19 vaccines to many countries around the world on a need basis.