Russia has developed the first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against Coronavirus, President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday.

“This morning, for the first time in the world, a vaccine against the new coronavirus was registered” in Russia, Putin said in a televised video conference call with government ministers.

Further speaking at a government event, Putin said that the vaccine has proven efficient during tests, offering a lasting immunity from the Coronavirus and emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests. He added that one of his two daughters has received a shot of the vaccine and is feeling well.

The announcement comes as reports have been floating that Moscow is all set to register its first COVID-19 vaccine this week despite safety concerns raised from several quarters, including the WHO.

The country has been pushing extensively for virus vaccine for quite some time now before it starts mass vaccination in October.

Russia’s Deputy Health Minister Oleg Gridnev recently revealed plans to register a Coronavirus vaccine on August 12, Sputnik news agency reported.

Russia is the fourth worst-hit nation after the US, Brazil and India.

The announced vaccine, jointly developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute and the Russian Defence Ministry, had reportedly reached advanced stages of development and was set to pass state registration.

On August 3, a “final medical examination” of participants in clinical trials of the vaccine took place at the Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital, the Russian Defence Ministry earlier said in a statement.

The results clearly showed that all volunteers had a clear immune response resulting from vaccination, the ministry said, adding that there were no side effects or abnormalities in the work of the volunteers.

“Thus, the available data of laboratory and instrumental studies allow us to speak about the safety and good tolerance of the vaccine,” the statement added.

But this vaccine is not among the six vaccines that have reached the crucial Phase 3 trial, according to the World Health Organization.

Responding to a question on concerns about any vaccine candidate that hits the market in this calendar year, Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said that “we will still have to remain cautious”.

“Should we find that signal we should be able to move into production of that vaccine and begin to use it in human populations, but we will still have to remain cautious as we scale up the number of people vaccinated,” Ryan said.

“Side effects are rare, and they only become apparent when you vaccinate lots and lots of people. So there will still be a need for a monitoring phase even when we start to vaccinate at population level,” he said.

Of the six COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have reached the Phase 3 level according to the WHO, three are from China and the other three, include the ones developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, Moderna, and one jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Meanwhile, Russia had said on August 3 that it aims to launch mass production of a Coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.

“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov had said in an interview published by state news agency TASS.

“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which finances the trials, had said he expects official registration of the vaccine to be complete “within ten days.”

“If this happens in the next ten days, we will be ahead not just of the United States but other countries too, it will be the first registered Coronavirus vaccine,” RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev said in televised remarks.

Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding the needed immune response into cells.

Gamaleya’s vaccine is based on the adenovirus, a similar technology to the Coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.

Meanwhile, Russia has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a Coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.

(With agency inputs)