MOSCOW 

Russia has started production of its first COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.

Initial batches of the vaccine will be earmarked for immunizing doctors and health workers, before going to the general public.

Russia officially registered the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, on Tuesday.

The announcement drew skepticism worldwide as Russia plans to continue the third phase of trials along with the vaccine’s production and use.

However, Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Research Institute, defended the approach, saying the vaccine is based on a well-researched scientific platform dating back decades.

The vaccine, called Gam-Covid-Vac, standing for “Gamaleya Covid Vaccine,” is designed to be administered through two injections to prolong the immunity.

The difference in the doses is the type of adenovirus used to deliver the vaccine to the body’s cells.

For maximum effect, the immunization agents have to be injected at an interval of two or three weeks, giving the immune system time to calm down after activation, provoked by the introduction of foreign substances.

According to its instruction for use, the vaccine is suitable for people aged between 18 and 60 and can be combined with other antigens, including against the flu.

The vaccine recipients will be monitored by doctors, and a mobile app is also being developed so patients can routinely add data about their condition and quickly inform doctors of possible complications.

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