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World

Russia to mass produce second Covid vaccine next month

  • Russia has said that it will be able to inoculate 60 percent of the population this year, though rollout of Sputnik V has been slower than planned.
Published January 26, 2021
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MOSCOW: Russian authorities on Tuesday said mass production of its second coronavirus vaccine would begin next month and that a third homemade jab is currently in registration.

Russia launched an inoculation campaign earlier this month, making its first homegrown vaccine, Sputnik V, available to all citizens 18 and older.

Sputnik V was registered in August -- months ahead of Western competitors -- and a second Covid vaccine, EpiVacCorona, swiftly followed in October.

"Next month we will move on to a large-scale release of the EpiVacCorona vaccine," Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

"It has already started to become available to the public," he added, noting the government has allocated two billion rubles ($26.5 million) to produce the jab.

EpiVacCorona was developed by Vektor, a top-secret laboratory in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk that stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.

Its coronavirus vaccine triggers an immune response using synthetic virus proteins, while Sputnik V uses adapted strains of the adenovirus, a virus that causes the common cold.

Russia's health regulator Rospotrebnadzor this month said early stage trials had shown EpiVacCorona to be 100 percent effective.

Russia has said that it will be able to inoculate 60 percent of the population this year, though rollout of Sputnik V has been slower than planned.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told the cabinet his ministry was in the process of registering a third homemade coronavirus vaccine.

He added that the jab would be made available to the public "within a month".

Total infections stood at more than 3.7 million on Tuesday, making Russia's caseload the fourth-highest in the world.

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