The financial backers and developers of Russia's Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine say the two shots required to vaccinate one person will cost “less than $20” on international markets and will be free of charge for Russian citizens.
The international market price for Sputnik-V unveiled on November 24 is cheaper than some other Western rivals, such as a vaccine produced by Pfizer, which costs more than $18 per shot.
However, the Russian vaccine is more expensive than one produced by AstraZeneca, which will be sold in Europe for around $3 per shot.
Besides Sputnik-V, nearly a dozen vaccines worldwide are currently undergoing late-stage trials to determine their safety and effectiveness, according to the World Health Organization.
Critics have argued that the development of Russia’s vaccine -- which received approval before undergoing Phase III trials -- was expedited for political reasons to assure the country’s victory in the global race.
In particular, Russia has been criticized by some Western scientists who have accused it of cutting corners in an effort to try to rush out the vaccine and complained about the amount of data available to allow others to interpret its research.
It's also a race Russia wants to win at home. The country has the world's fifth-highest number of recorded COVID-19 cases at 2.14 million, including 24,326 new infections on November 23 alone.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, RDIF, said in a statement that Moscow and its foreign partners have the capacity to make more than 1 billion doses starting from next year, enough to vaccinate over 500 million people.
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"The current agreements between RDIF and leading foreign pharmaceutical companies allow the Sputnik-V vaccine to be produced abroad for 500 million people per year, starting from 2021. RDIF is currently considering additional applications from a number of countries and companies to further increase production capacity," the statement said.
In a separate statement, RDIF, Russia's Health Ministry, and the state-run Gamaleya National Research Center said that new clinical trial data shows that Sputnik-V was 91.4 percent effective on Day 28 and over 95 percent effective on Day 42.
They said that 22,000 volunteers had been vaccinated with the first dose and more than 19,000 with both doses.
Trials are also taking place in the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Belarus, according to the statement.
Russia was the first country to approve its coronavirus vaccine for widespread use by the public, registering Sputnik-V in August, ahead of the start of the large-scale trial in September.
The vaccine, which has already been administered in Russia to health-care workers and other high-risk groups, has not yet been evaluated by the European Union’s drug regulator.
Amid an alarming surge in coronavirus infections in much of the world, hopes have been raised that a series of promising new vaccines may become widely available by spring of next year, with the first doses coming out as soon as December.