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"Trust me. It's safe." Photo: Alexy Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty

Not to be outdone by Pfizer’s big announcement, Russia’s state-run Gamaleya Research Institute announced Wednesday that its Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective.

Why it matters: Experts have criticized the lack of transparency around the vaccine and the haste with which the Kremlin approved it, but several countries are lining up to gain access.

  • Hungary is the first EU country to announce a plan to buy it, per the FT. It expects a sample within the next week or so, and it's in “advanced negotiations” for a larger order.
  • Russia has already sold doses to Brazil, In­dia, Mex­ico and Egypt, per WSJ. It also plans to make the vaccine available to countries in its neighborhood, like Kazakhstan.
  • The Philippines plans to join clinical trials for the vaccine, with President Rodrigo Duterte even saying he would be injected himself.
  • Russia has discussed the distribution of its vaccine with a number of other countries, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Yes, but: The rhetoric from Moscow has been far out in front of any evidence that the vaccine is safe, effective and can be developed at a sufficient scale to be distributed around the world.

The bottom line: “Why is Russia doing this? It’s the international vaccine race. They want to be seen to be keeping up with their competitors in other countries,” John Moore, a vaccine researcher at Cornell, told Science. “It’s clearly a rushed out announcement. But it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”

Go deeper: EU purchases 200m doses of Pfizer's vaccine

Go deeper

20 hours ago - World

Azar's UN remarks to take aim at China

Alex Azar during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar is expected to give a speech at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that hails U.S. progress on coronavirus vaccines while criticizing — though not directly naming — China.

Why it matters: U.S. government officials are concerned that China will use the UN special session to spread disinformation about the origins of the virus and China's early missteps in handling the pandemic.

Pelosi, Schumer call on McConnell to adopt bipartisan $900B stimulus framework

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief framework as a basis for jumpstarting negotiations.

Why it matters: The framework, introduced by a group of bipartisan lawmakers on Tuesday, calls for significantly less funding than Pelosi had previously demanded — a sign that Democrats are ready to further compromise as millions of Americans endure economic hardship.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.