The Iraqi Ministry of Health has given emergency use authorization to Russia’s Sputnik V, the world’s first vaccine against Covid-19, joining 44 other countries and territories around the world that have done so thus far.
Baghdad’s decision was announced on Thursday by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the vaccine’s development at Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute.
“The vaccine is now authorized in 8 countries of the Middle East and we are seeing rising demand for it,” said RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev. He added that the total population of the countries and territories that have approved Sputnik V is now over 1.2 billion, making the Russian jab one of the “key global vaccines to fight the coronavirus.”
Iraq will import one million doses of Sputnik V, with the first shipments expected to arrive within two weeks, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said in a statement on Thursday. Baghdad has already rolled out 50,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine this week, starting with health workers, the elderly and security personnel.
Almost 714,000 cases of Covid-19 and 13,500 deaths attributed to the virus have been registered in Iraq so far. In approving the Russian-developed vaccine, Baghdad follows the lead of regional neighbors Syria, Bahrain, UAE and the Palestinian Authority – as well as more than three dozen other countries around the globe.
Sputnik V boasts an efficacy rate of over 91 percent, including protection against the severe form of Covid-19 among the elderly, who are most at risk of dying from the virus. It is based on well-known adenoviral vectors, doesn’t cause strong allergic reactions, and has shown no long-term negative effects. The vaccine is relatively inexpensive and can be kept in regular refrigeration, unlike several others that require cryo storage.
Despite its advantages, political considerations appear to have slowed down the acceptance of Sputnik V in certain places. Though the RDIF submitted the necessary documentation for its approval in the EU in January, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed only this week that it has ordered a review of the vaccine.
Impatient with the regulator, two EU members – Hungary and Slovakia – have already approved Sputnik V for emergency use.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!