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The New Arab Staff

Assad says he will personally test Russian 'Sputnik' coronavirus vaccine

Assad said he would "love" to take the new Russian vaccine [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 October, 2020

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In an interview with the Sputnik news agency, Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad says that he will personally take a controversial new coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has said he is willing to test the controversial Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, which was approved by Russian health authorities in August.

Scientists have pointed out that the vaccine was not adequately tested on humans before being approved, and that more trials are required in order for it to be considered safe, effective, and marketable.

However, when asked by the Russian news agency Sputnik whether he would personally take the vaccine, Assad said, "Of course, in these circumstances anyone would love to be vaccinated against this dangerous virus, but I think it's not available for the international market yet."

Assad said that the Syrian regime would negotiate the import of the coronavirus vaccine with Russian authorities as soon as it becomes available.

"Everyone in Syria is asking about the Russian vaccine," the Syrian dictator added.

Read also: In authoritarian hands – Russia’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine comes to Egypt

Assad's statement comes at a time when the number of coronavirus cases in Syria is rapidly rising. At least 211 new cases were reported on Tuesday, taking the total number recorded to 4,457.

At least 209 people have died from the disease, according to the Syrian regime.

However, Syrian medics have said that the regime has vastly underreported the number of cases in the country and warned that Syria could face an "unprecedented catastrophe" amid a shortage of medical supplies, testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as overcrowding in a number of hospitals in regime-held cities.

Syrian opposition politicians wrote an open letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last July calling for the establishment of an international fact-finding mission to look into the country's true coronavirus situation.

Humanitarian organisations are particularly concerned about the spread of coronavirus in opposition-held Idlib province, where bombing late last year and early 2020 by the Assad regime and Russia has made nearly a million people homeless and destroyed hospitals and other healthcare infrastructure.

Last week, Russia announced that it will supply Egypt with 25 million doses of its controversial vaccine.

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