Slovakia has received its first shipment of 200,000 Sputnik V doses, the second European Union member state to obtain the Russian-made coronavirus vaccine.
Slovakia has had the world's highest per-capita death rate related to COVID-19 in the past week, according to the Our World in Data website.
The country follows Hungary in rolling out the Russian vaccine even though it lacks approval by the EU drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
'It is right to buy the Russian vaccine as COVID-19 does not know anything about geopolitics,' Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said on March 1. 'I do not have a problem getting a Sputnik [injection] myself.'
Slovakia is buying 2 million Sputnik V vaccines and expects the first half to arrive this month.
Health Minister Marek Krajci said Sputnik V's use would be approved on March 1 and vaccinations could begin in several weeks.
In the neighboring Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the country could use the Sputnik V vaccine to battle the world's highest per capita infection rate.
In August, Russia approved Sputnik V, the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, prompting scientists around the world to question its safety and efficacy because it was registered before the results of Phase 3 studies were made available.
But in early February, peer-reviewed, late-stage trial results published in The Lancet medical journal showed the two-dose regimen of Sputnik V was 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, about the same level as the leading Western-developed vaccines.
The vaccine has now been approved for use in some 30 countries.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036