Kazakhstan to launch production of Russian vaccine

NUR-SULTAN, KAZAKHSTAN (AFP) – Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan said yesterday it will begin producing Russia’s coronavirus vaccine later this month, becoming the latest country to do so as a global inoculation race heats up.

Russia last month said its Sputnik V drug was 95 per cent effective and would be cheaper and easier to store than some alternatives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Moscow’s allies to mass produce the country’s vaccines.

In a statement yesterday, Kazakhstan’s presidency said the country would begin producing Sputnik V from December 22, with plans to begin inoculating vulnerable groups in early 2021.

The developers of Sputnik V – named after the Soviet-era satellite – have said the jab will be available on international markets for less than USD10 per dose.

They have also said it can be stored at between two and eight degrees Celsius instead of the temperatures far below freezing required for some other vaccines.

Russia was one of the first to announce the development of a vaccine in August but before beginning final clinical trials.

The jab is currently in its third and final stage of clinical trials slated to involve some 40,000 volunteers.

Western experts have in the past expressed concern over Sputnik V, fearing that its development could be rushed.

Several welcomed the most recent efficacy figures, though they said more data was needed.