Russia is offering its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to other countries, but Putin won’t take it until it’s formally approved

Russia is hailing its trial coronavirus vaccine, and offering it to other countries, but the Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin won’t take it until it has completed all its trials and is formally certified.

“The president cannot use an uncertified vaccine,” Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

“We haven’t started mass vaccination yet. And, of course, the head of state cannot take part in vaccination as a volunteer,” Peskov added, according to TASS.

Russia was the first country to approve a trial vaccine, giving Sputnik V emergency-use approval on August 11. It started giving it to frontline healthcare workers soon after.

CNN noted that Peskov did not specify the difference between “uncertified” and “approved” on the call.

On Tuesday, Russia claimed that Sputnik V had shown 95% efficacy in trials. “Sputnik shows very high effectiveness, higher than 95%,” said Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, according to The Guardian.

On November 11, Russia announced that Sputnik V was 92% effective. However, trials are still ongoing for Sputnik V and the prototype, developed by the Gamaleya Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, is yet to get full approval.

This month AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna all reported promising results on their vaccines as well. Pfizer and Moderna said its vaccines were more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, while AstraZeneca said its vaccines was 70% effective on average.

Neither AstraZeneca, Pfizer, nor Moderna have released their vaccines to the general public or for emergency use.

Speaking at the virtual G20 summit on Saturday, Putin said Russia was now ready to sell the vaccine to others.

While Putin has not taken a shot of the trial vaccine, he said on August 8 that it had “passed all the needed checks” and that one of his daughters had taken it.

Peskov’s comments Wednesday also echo those he made on July 20, when he told TASS that that Putin would not be taking a shot of Russia’s trial vaccine because “it wouldn’t be good for a head of state to use an uncertified vaccine, I think.”

Experts have cast doubt over the safety of Sputnik V, saying that trials were rushed to score political points in Moscow.

However, in early September, Russian researchers found in an early study that the vaccine was generally safe, but acknowledge the need to run a larger study.

The government hopes to roll out the vaccine free of charge to every Russian in early 2021, said Tatyana Golikova, the deputy prime minister, on Tuesday, according to the Moscow Times.

To international buyers the vaccine will cost $10-per-dose, with two doses required for each person, the Moscow Times said.

Russia submitted Sputnik V to the World Health Organization for emergency use approval on October 29.