The UN General Assembly, held in a coronavirus-appropriate virtual format, kicked off on Tuesday. Putin delivered a speech during its morning session, largely focused on the ongoing pandemic.
“We’ve all faced a fundamentally new challenge – the coronavirus pandemic. The disease directly affected millions of people, [and] claimed the most precious thing – hundreds of thousands of human lives. Quarantines, the closure of borders, creation of numerous problems for citizens of almost all countries – all these things are the reality today,” Putin said.
Those world leaders interested in cooperation on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine should meet and discuss fending off the deadly disease and making the jab freely accessible to everyone, he said, calling it the top priority for the whole of humankind. Russia was the first country in the world to register a vaccine – Sputnik V, which has proven to be “reliable, safe and effective” – and is ready to provide all the assistance needed, Putin stressed.
“We are absolutely open and committed to partnership. In this regard, we are coming with an initiative to hold a high-level online conference in the nearest future with states interested in cooperation in the development of vaccines against coronavirus.”
Noting that the disease has already affected UN staff, Putin then offered the organization help in battling the virus. He said that Moscow is ready to provide free Sputnik V shots to any UN staffers willing to be vaccinated, adding that Russia has already received some requests from UN colleagues.
The UN responded by thanking the Russian president for the “generous offer,” promising to examine it further.
“We thank President Putin for his generous offer, which will be examined by our medical services,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
The Sputnik V vaccine is currently undergoing large-scale final trials.
Tens of thousands of Russians and foreigners have volunteered to take part in the pilot immunization program.
Several world nations, including Russia’s CSTO partners, India and the Philippines, have showed interest in procuring the vaccine.