Putin Enjoying Vaccine Success

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Countries are lining up for supplies of Sputnik V, including the EU.

President Vladimir Putin’s announcement in August that Russia had cleared the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for use before it even completed safety trials sparked skepticism worldwide. Now he may reap diplomatic and financial dividends as Russia basks in arguably its biggest scientific breakthrough since the Soviet era, reports Bloomberg.

Countries are queuing up for supplies of Sputnik V (the V is for victory, not 5) after peer-reviewed results published in The Lancet medical journal showed the Russian vaccine protects against Covid-19 about as well as U.S. and European shots, and far more effectively than Chinese rivals.

At least 20 countries have approved the inoculation for use, including European Union member-state Hungary, while key markets such as Brazil and India are close to authorizing it. Now Russia is setting its sights on the prized EU market as the bloc struggles with its vaccination programme amid supply shortages. Indeed, the EU's chief diplomat was accused of kow-towing to Russia for vaccines on 'embarrassing' Moscow visit last Friday. But why not? It's got to be better to have plenty of vaccines, even if they come from Russia.

Russia's decision to name Sputnik V after the world’s first satellite whose 1957 launch gave the Soviet Union a stunning triumph against the U.S. to start the space race only underlined the scale of the significance Moscow attached to the achievement. Results from the late-stage trials of 20,000 participants reviewed in The Lancet showed that the vaccine has a 91.6% success rate.

“This is a watershed moment for us,” Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, which backed Sputnik V’s development and is in charge of its international roll-out, said in an interview.