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Key things to know about first COVID-19 vaccine registered in Russia

In an historic announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin on 11 August revealed that the country’s Gamaleya Research Institute had completed the trials and registration of the world’s first vaccine against the coronavirus.

The distribution of the vaccine to the groups who need it most will start soon, although the medicine is yet to hit the shelves for broader use. Here is what you need to know about the vaccine that might mark the beginning of the end of the global pandemic.

  • The vaccine will effectively protect a person from the coronavirus for up to two years after injection.
  • Such a prolonged period of protection is possible due to the vaccine being based on viral vectors – a harmless human adenovirus delivers a portion of the COVID-19 virus to a human body forcing it to form an immune response to it.
  • The vaccine consists of two injections, conducted within a three-week interval.
  • The registration of the vaccine occurred after a series of tests conducted on animals and two groups consisting of 38 human volunteers [each], [total: 76 human volunteers]. They proved the vaccine to be both harmless and effective in generating immunity to the coronavirus infection.
  • People aged between 18 and 60, who don’t have an allergy to its components and are not pregnant are eligible for vaccination with the drug. However, those who suffer from respiratory diseases will have to wait until their illness passes before being vaccinated.
  • The drug will be distributed first and foremost to medical workers dealing with coronavirus patients. According to the registration papers, the vaccine will become available to the broader public starting on 1 January 2021.
  • Mass production of the vaccine is set to kick off in the near future. Apart from the Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed the vaccine, it will be produced at a pharmaceutical factory belonging to the Russian company AFK Sistema, who promised an output of around 1.5 million doses per year.
  • Moscow has also signed agreements with five other countries to produce up to 500 million doses of the drug in the first 12 months.
  • The vaccine was registered as Gam-COVID-Vac, but will be distributed under the name “Sputnik V”. The drug’s official website explains that the original sputnik, the first Soviet satellite, triggered global space research and now the Russian COVID-19 vaccine will create a so-called “Sputnik effect” for the rest of the world fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to the Gamaleya Research Institute’s Deputy Director for scientific work Denis Logunov, the vaccine research started in February of this year and was completed two weeks later. Such a rapid pace of development was put down to the team using previous work on another coronavirus – MERS – to create the COVID-19 vaccine.