Belarus launches mass COVID-19 vaccination with Russian Sputnik V / REUTERS

Belarus' Healthcare Ministry, Russia's Ministry of Health and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have announced the launch of a COVID-19 vaccination program in Belarus.

The first batch of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine has arrived in Belarus today, the official BelTA news agency reported with reference to the Healthcare Ministry's press service.

"A new stage – mass vaccination against COVID-19 – will kick off today. Healthcare professionals, teachers and specialists who, as part of their profession, come into contact with people a lot will be the first to get vaccinated. Vaccination will be voluntary," Belarus' Healthcare Minister Dmitry Pinevich said.

Read alsoRazumkov doubts effectiveness of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine (Video)According to him, Belarus has set up a vaccine storage system to keep the cold chain, purchased special medical freezer equipment to transport the vaccine.

Thus, Belarus became the first country to start a large-scale vaccination campaign, using the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Russian vaccine against coronavirus: What is known

  • In August, Russia announced the registration of the "world's first" vaccine against COVID-19, it was allegedly tested by one of Putin's daughters.
  • Moscow has not provided the international scientific community with any data on vaccine trials that would confirm that it is safe and effective against COVID-19. The third stage of clinical trials of the vaccine has not been conducted prior to registration.
  • At the same time, an international team of researchers expressed concern about possible inaccuracies in the report on the Russian vaccine trials. Some graphs contain suspicious repetitions, and there is not enough data to verify the results.
  • However, Russians rated their controversial coronavirus vaccine as effective as 92%.
  • In early December, Putin announced plans to launch a large-scale campaign to vaccinate healthcare workers and teachers against the coronavirus.