Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has announced that his country has manufactured the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, which Moscow has named “Sputnik V”. In a world that is under the grip of a pandemic that recently reached a 20-million mark, news of a Corona Virus vaccine is indeed a much-awaited breakthrough.
No wonder the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s revered specialized agency responsible for international public health, has hastened to hold talks with the Russian health authorities over the reported medical breakthrough.
Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic was quoted as saying: “We are in close contact with the Russian health authorities and discussions are on-going with respect to possible WHO prequalification of the vaccine, but again prequalification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data.”
Karill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), speaking amid President Putin’s major announcement, said Russia has already received orders for one billion doses from twenty nations around the world.
He said it was Moscow’s stated intention to assist countries which could not afford the cost of vaccines through a humanitarian aid programme. “People around the world should have equal access to a vaccine, regardless of their financial situation,” Dmitriev was quoted as saying.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China’s Wuhan province in late 2019, the world has been struggling with a cure for this rare disease. The developed world has been frantically searching for a vaccine for COVID-19 without success. Hence the excitement, and perhaps skepticism in other quarters, that the Russians might have found the elusive cure for COVID-19.
Moscow says more clinical trials are being carried out in Russia and the Middle East and the vaccine would soon undergo a mass production which would result in Sputnik V becoming available to the general public from January 2021.
It is my fervent wish that Geo-politics will not come in the way of scientific research and medicine, possibly resulting in the unnecessary politicization of the desperate search for the COVID-19 vaccine.
For, there comes a time in life when it should matter no longer who gets the number one spot in whatever the race. The world is currently engrossed in one such moment in its search for a cure for the coronavirus.
The pandemic knows no colour, creed, age, gender and further knows no boundaries. From the USA, where more than 160 000 people have thus far succumbed to COVID-19-related deaths, to South Africa where the government appears to have done relatively well containing the spread of the virus, nations are called by basic logic to set differences aside and work together for the sake of humanity.
As things stand men, women and children are not spared from the marauding pandemic that has mercilessly shaken the world. The WHO’s leadership in response to the global panic is highly commendable. This is more so in light of harsh public attacks and threats to withdraw financial support to the body by the Trump administration.
This is the time for the nations to come together and cooperate, particularly at the level of medico-scientific research, for this is precisely what we all need in order to preserve a more humane universe.