Why Russia chose Sputnik V for its COVID-19 vaccine, why is it significant
Moscow, Aug 12: Sputnik V is racing to become the world's first COVID-19 vaccine to get registered but why did Russia choose to name its vaccine after a cold-war era satellite?
A Russian official has told Reuters, the name Sputnik V was chosen to signify the country's success in being the first to have a vaccine.
In a first, October 1957 saw the Soviet Union perform the world's first satellite launch, placing Sputnik 1 into a low Earth orbit. Thus, began the space age.
"The successful launch shocked the world, giving the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space. The word 'Sputnik' originally meant 'fellow traveler,' but has become synonymous with 'satellite' in modern Russian," according to NASA.
However, some critics have pointed out that the name Sputnik V could be a political propaganda tool. There is a chance that Russia is retracing what it did with the satellite all those years ago, now, with this vaccine, The Print reported.
Responding with scepticism to Russia's approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, several scientists around the world, including in India, suggest it hasn't been tested properly given the time constraint and there may not be enough evidence to prove its efficacy.
World Health Organisation's spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said on Tuesday that it was in "close contact" with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval, AFP reported.
"Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data," he said.
Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian sovereign wealth fund that helped develop the vaccine, said the doubts about the vaccines were part of "coordinated and carefully orchestrated media attacks" designed to "discredit" the country.
He said that 20 countries have pre-ordered over a billion doses of Sputnik V.
Industrial production of the vaccine is expected to begin in September and the country will start vaccinating medical staff immediately thereafter.
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has been developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with the country's defence ministry.
At least seven Indian pharma companies are working to develop a vaccine against coronavirus as they join global efforts to find a preventive to check the spread of the deadly virus.
A total of 165 candidate vaccines are being worked on around the world, according to the latest WHO overview produced on July 31.
Of those, 139 are still in pre-clinical evaluation, while the other 26 are in the various phases of being tested on humans, of which six are the furthest ahead, having reached Phase 3 of clinical evaluation.
The Gamaleya candidate being produced in Russia, which is among the 26 being tested on humans, is listed as being in Phase 1.