Putin hopes WHO soon approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday voiced hope for a quick approval of the country's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine by the World Health Organization, saying the move is essential for expanding its global supplies.
Speaking during a video call with Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Putin said that receiving the WHO's vetting is necessary to spread the Russian vaccine more broadly around the world, including free supplies.
The Russian leader also argued that WHO's approval should open the door for Russians and others who have had the Sputnik V vaccine to travel more freely around the world.
Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V in the spring, and last month he received a booster shot of Sputnik Light, the one-dose version. He also said he took an experimental nasal version of Sputnik V days after receiving his booster shot, adding that he was feeling fine and felt no side effects.
The Gamaleya Institute that developed Sputnik V has said the vaccine should be efficient against the omicron variant of COVID-19, but announced that it will immediately start working on adapting it to counter the new variant.
Russia was the first country in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, launching Sputnik V in August 2020, and has plentiful supplies. But uptake has been slow, blamed in part on conflicting signals from Russian authorities.
Russia in recent months has faced its deadliest and largest surge of coronavirus cases, with infections and deaths climbing to all-time highs and only slowing in the last few weeks. Russia has Europe's highest confirmed pandemic death toll at over 281,000, according to the government's coronavirus task force. But a report released Friday by the state...