Russia has dismissed mounting international concern over the safety of its locally developed Covid-19 vaccine as “absolutely groundless”.
On Tuesday, it said a vaccine had been given regulatory approval after less than two months of testing on humans.
But experts were quick to raise concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, and a growing list of countries have expressed scepticism.
Scientists in Germany, France, Spain and the US have all urged caution, BBC reported.
“It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that… are absolutely groundless,” Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.
He added that the vaccine would be available soon.
“The first packages of the medical vaccine… will be received within the next two weeks, primarily for doctors,” Mr Murashko said.
Russian officials have said they plan to start mass vaccination in October.
The announcement on Tuesday was made by President Vladimir Putin, who said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and his daughter had already been given it.
World Health Organization (WHO) said it was in talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine, which has been named Sputnik-V.
It is not among the organisation’s list of six vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials, which involve more widespread testing in humans.