"Online Event: The Scramble for a Vaccine: Putin's Sputnik V— "Trust me!"." CSIS Commission on Strengthening America's Health Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 02, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2023.

Photo Credit: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

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On September 2, 2020, the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security hosted a discussion on Vladimir Putin’s Sputnik V vaccine, examining its implications for Russian health security and the global scramble for a vaccine. The Commission was joined by Heather A. Conley, Senior Vice President and Director of the CSIS Europe Program; Judyth Twigg, Senior Associate with the CSIS Global Health Policy Center and Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University; and Vasily Vlassov, Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. J. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President and Director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, moderated the event discussion.

On August 11, Russia announced that it had approved the first Covid-19 vaccine for human use: Sputnik V. This announcement immediately stirred question and controversy within Russia and around the world, because the vaccine is unproven – it has not undergone large scale phase III clinical trials for safety and efficacy. Launching a vaccination campaign in Russia – and potentially elsewhere – without adequate safety and efficacy data could have global ramifications.

This event featured a diverse panel of experts that examined the implications of this announcement and what may lie ahead in the future. How might this play out within Russia – what resistance is Putin facing domestically, and what assets have been mobilized to support the campaign? Is there a success scenario for Putin? What might this mean for Russia’s distribution partnerships with other countries? What has the reception been in Europe, the United States, China, and at the World Health Organization? Does this development signal the degradation of international norms around vaccine development?

This discussion was part of a series of events hosted by the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security examining the global scramble for a Covid-19 vaccine. The first event, The Scramble for Vaccines and the COVAX Facility, focused on COVAX, a nascent international initiative to develop and equitably distribute Covid-19 vaccines to benefit all countries, rich and poor.

This event was made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.