16:40 GMT26 February 2021
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    Austria launched its vaccination effort in December, offering citizens inoculations with Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca. Certain Austrian firms are also negotiating with Russia on Sputnik V production, according to the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, one of the vaccine's promoters abroad.

    Austria's top infectologist, Professor Florian Thalhammer, believes that the efficacy and reliability of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine could be compared with that of the Kalashnikov rifle.

    In an interview with Kronen Zeitung, Thalhammer positively assessed the Russian vaccine and the latest review of its Phase III clinical trials that showed it had 91.6 percent efficacy against the coronavirus.

    "Sputnik V is like a Kalashnikov, this Russian rifle: simple, reliable and effective", he told the newspaper.

    Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) CEO Kirill Dmitriev told Austrian broadcaster Ö1 on Saturday that the fund is already in talks with several Austrian companies to set up production of the vaccine.

    Developed by the Gamaleya Epidemiology and Microbiology Centre and registered by the Russian Ministry of Health on 11 August 2020, Sputnik V is the world's first registered vaccine against the coronavirus.

    In February, peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published an interim analysis from the Phase III clinical trials of the Russian vaccine, showing it had 91.6 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The vaccine has already been approved in 31 countries, including Belarus, Serbia, Hungary, San Marino, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Algeria, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

    Kalashnikov, vaccine, Sputnik V, Austria
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