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Russia has reached an agreement in principle to conduct clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said the head of its sovereign wealth fund.

The Russians are working with a pharmaceutical company in the kingdom and have shared data from Phase I and Phase II trials with Saudi partners, the chief executive officer of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, told Arab News.

Russia also shared its data with the UAE and is expecting to start its trials there later in August, Dmitriev said. Additionally, it plans to conduct clinical trials in the Philippines and Brazil as well.

On Tuesday, Russia approved a coronavirus vaccine even before the start of the final trial. Russia has also announced the production of the first batch of vaccines to be given to health workers later this month. The country’s plan to start mass inoculations as soon as October.

However the fast approval of the vaccine has raised some questions about its safety. Russian authorities say that the vaccine has been developed on a platform that had been used for the development of a number of other vaccines.

“We have a law in Russia that at a time of epidemic you’re allowed to do phase 3 concurrently while administering the vaccine to people. Basically it’s invoked only for technologies that’ve been proven to be safe before,” Kirill Dmitriev, told Arab News.

Russia has named the covid vaccine “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957. (With Agency Inputs)

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