Russia has produced the first batch of its new vaccine for Covid-19, the Interfax news agency quoted the health ministry as saying on Saturday, hours after the ministry reported the start of manufacturing.
Some scientists said they fear that with this fast regulatory approval, Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety amid the global race to develop a vaccine against the disease.
Russia has said the vaccine, the first for the coronavirus to go into production, will be rolled out by the end of this month.
Its approval comes before trials that would normally involve thousands of participants, commonly known as Phase III. Such trials are usually considered essential precursors for a vaccine to secure regulatory approval.
The vaccine has been named “Sputnik V” in homage to the world's first satellite launched by the Soviet Union. President Vladimir Putin has assured the public that it is safe, adding that one of his daughters had taken it as a volunteer and felt good afterwards.
Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, which developed the vaccine, said previously that Russia would be producing about five million doses a month by December-January, Interfax said.
The head of the institute, Alexander Gintsburg, told the TASS state news agency on Saturday that volunteers taking part in the final stage testing of the vaccine's safety and efficacy would have two inoculations.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said this week that the vaccine would first be made available to medics and would later be available to all Russians on a voluntary basis.
With more than 917,000 confirmed infections, Russia's coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.
Currently, Russia has 92,000 people hospitalised with the virus and 2,900 in intensive care, according to the health ministry.