Russia has struck preliminary agreements to market its COVID 19 vaccine to more than 10 countries in Asia, South America and the Middle East, a development that could give Moscow valuable economic and political leverage internationally.
Russian officials say they have secured preliminary deals for the vaccine to be delivered to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and India and in addition, Russia says it’s in various stages of discussions with approximately 10 other countries to purchase the vaccine.
All told, it has received offers or indications of interest in the vaccine for a total of 1.2 billion doses.
The vaccines will be manufactured abroad and dispersed worldwide from there as soon as November, but officials say the shot will need local regulatory clearance before being circulated.
The shot, called Sputnik V, after the satellite the Soviet Union launched ahead of the US in the Cold War space race, was endorsed by Russian authorities early last month, despite scepticism from the West about the speed with which it was registered.
Russian researchers completed only small scale tests on 76 volunteers before securing approval. Data from these early trials revealed that the shot was safe to use and generated an immune response but experts say large scale trials are required before establishing the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Russia began trials on 40,000 volunteers in late August.
Russia hopes to launch mass vaccinations of its own people by the end of the year. Meanwhile, China has injected hundreds of thousands with its own experimental vaccine.
Experts have expressed concerns over a rush to use vaccines that haven’t quite completed testing, as the widespread use of an ineffective shot could lead to a renewed spread of the coronavirus.
American officials have indicated the US is unlikely to use a Russian or Chinese vaccine because of doubts over testing methods.
Moscow’s drive to give access to its vaccine abroad highlights President Vladimir Putin’s goal of establishing Russia as a primary player in the international race to secure COVID 19 vaccines.
Analysts say Moscow could ultimately use the shot as a soft power tool to draw countries into its orbit.
Vladimir Frolov, a former senior Russian diplomat and Moscow based political analyst said that the idea was that the vaccine could win Russia some hearts and minds in the non-West and increase its geopolitical leverage.
Separately, Russia strives to manufacture 30 million Sputnik V doses by the end of this year for its own population.
The country has been hit badly by the virus with more than one million cases, representing the fourth largest caseload in the world and Russia has struck preliminary agreements to market the vaccine to more than 10 countries, according to Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which has spearheaded the vaccine effort.
If this saves millions of humans in impoverished countries and their children don’t perish from starvation then we should all be for it, but we’re not all going to want to save the rest of the world from COVID 19 when we can just save ourselves.
And we malign Russia, laugh at them, scorn them, but they just shrug their shoulders and go about their business with persistent determination and if this works, which hopefully it will, it will not be the first time they will have saved humankind.
I’m sure my views will be savaged by the ignorant, the self-important and uninformed but I must say that I have a grudging admiration for them.
They have been around as one nation for a very long time, so there must be a method to their madness, even if they are insane methods.