New Delhi (NVI): The European country Belarus become the first nation in the world after Russia to begin mass vaccination of its population in fight against COVID-19 with ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said today.
In an official statement, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said, “The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus and RDIF, announce that Belarus is beginning the vaccination with Russian ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine with first batch of the vaccine arriving in Belarus today.”
“Vaccination of volunteers has already began on October 1, as part of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials in eight medical institutions selected as research centers in Belarus,” it added.
Meanwhile, RDIF and its partners are jointly working on development of local production of Sputnik V vaccine in Belarus, the statement noted.
On November 11, RDIF and the Belpharmprom holding company had signed a cooperation agreement to prepare the pharmaceutical company’s production facilities for the production of the vaccine in the European nation.
Belarusian Minister of Health Dmitry Pinevich said, “Today, Belarus enters a new stage as it starts with the mass vaccination against COVID-19. Medical staff, teachers, and those who get to contact a lot of people due to their job, will be the first to get vaccinated. Vaccination will be entirely voluntary.”
“A vaccine storage system has also been created in Belarus, which allows observing the cold chain, and special medical freezing equipment has been purchased to transport the vaccine. We thank the Russian side for active interaction and strategic cooperation in resolving this issue,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
RDIF’s CEO Kirill Dmitriev also said, “Today Belarus has also become the first country to start vaccination with Sputnik V outside Russia.”
“The next stage of cooperation between RDIF and its partners will involve the production of the vaccine in Belarus, which will significantly simplify logistics, accelerate the pace of vaccination and expand the prevention of coronavirus infection,” Dmitriev added.
Earlier on December 21, Belarus become the first foreign country to officially register Sputnik V after Russia. It also reviewed data received during Russia’s Phase III clinical trials, the RDIF said.
The ‘Sputnik V’ was the first coronavirus vaccine registered in Russia and the world. Russia’s Sputnik V is 92 percent effective, based on data from the first 16,000 trial participants, as per the reports.