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Sputnik V: Here's why Russia chose this historic space name for its COVID-19 vaccine

Sputnik V has received some criticism from scientists across the world as it was tested for less than two months.

August 12, 2020 / 04:31 PM IST

Russia is set to register its COVID-19 vaccine on August 12. Developed by Gamaleya Research Institute as well as the country's defence ministry, Sputnik V is well on its way to becoming the world's first COVID-19 vaccine to get registered.

So why did Russia choose to name its vaccine after a cold-war era satellite? Back in 1947, Sputnik was the world's first satellite that was launched by the Soviet Union.

This is to signify the country's success in being the first to have a vaccine, a Russian official told Reuters.

But to several others, this does not seem to be the case. Some have pointed out that the name Sputnik V could be a political propaganda tool. There is a chance that Russia is retracing what it did with the satellite all those years ago, now, with this vaccine, The Print reported. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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According to a report by, Sputnik V has received some criticism from scientists across the world for being approved despite being tested for less than two months.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said clinical trials of the vaccine were over, and that medical workers and teachers will be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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first published: Aug 12, 2020 03:53 pm