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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

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Updated 21 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Biden to get booster shot on camera — Pfizer vaccine safe, effective in children, company says — The booster vaccine discussion is far from over.
  2. Health: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years — U.S. death toll surpasses 1918 flu fatalities — Chicago has highest case rates in city worker neighborhoods.
  3. Politics: Biden to push vaccine-sharing at UN, but boosters at home — Rep. Tim Ryan tests positive — Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers.
  4. Education: D.C. schools to require teachers, staff to receive vaccine without testing option — More schools using "test-to-stay" strategy to minimize quarantines.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.