Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Rollout Begins in India

India on Friday started inoculating its population with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the jab’s developers said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which helped finance the jab, said vaccination started in the southern city of Hyderabad on Friday, making Sputnik V the «first foreign-made vaccine that is used in India».

It said a first batch of the two-dose vaccine arrived in India on May 1 and a second delivery is expected in the next few days.

«RDIF stands ready to support our partners in India to launch a full-scale vaccination with Sputnik V as soon as possible,» the fund’s CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.

Sputnik was approved in India in mid-April under emergency use authorization.

A number of leading India-based drugmakers, including Virchow Biotech and Hetero Biopharma, have agreements for local production of Sputnik V with the aim to produce over 850 million doses of the jab a year.

According to the RDIF, Russia’s vaccine, which is named after the Soviet-era satellite, has been registered in 65 countries.

It has not yet been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some Western countries have been wary of Sputnik V over concerns the Kremlin would use it as a soft-power tool to advance its interests.

Moscow registered the jab in August before large-scale clinical trials, but leading medical journal The Lancet has since said it is safe and more than 90 percent effective.

42% of Russians Won’t Get Vaccinated Under Any Circumstances

Over one-third of Russians refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus under any circumstances, the SuperJob.ru job portal said in a survey published Sunday.

Last week, Greece opened to Russian tourists vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V jab, prompting one in five Russians to say they are ready to get vaccinated so they can travel, Superjob said.

According to Superjob, 20% of Russian respondents said they would get vaccinated in order to travel abroad and 18% planned to get vaccinated anyway, while 42% do not want to be vaccinated under any circumstances. Another 20% said they found it difficult to make a decision.

The latest poll results come as Russian authorities grapple with widely entrenched vaccine skepticism as they seek to jumpstart their domestic vaccination campaign.

While Russia has heavily touted Sputnik V as the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine and it has been authorized for use in over 60 countries worldwide, the jab — along with Russia’s two other approved vaccines — have been met with cool reception at home. At its current pace, Russia is on track to vaccinate 70% of its population by February 2023.

Last week, the independent Levada Center pollster said that more than half of Russians (62%) are still not ready to get vaccinated with Sputnik V.

Superjob conducted the survey among 1,600 people in 406 Russian towns and cities who have not been vaccinated.

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