“It is guaranteed safe and effective,” says a voice with what’s probably meant to be a heavy Russian accent. “How do we know? Because it was tested on a bear, by a scientist who is also a bear.” This is an excerpt from a September edition of The Daily Show, and the subject was the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. It hasn’t aged well: Now that a peer-reviewed article in The Lancet has established Sputnik as safe and effective, the initial failure of many countries to believe in it looks like a missed opportunity.

The list of countries ordering the Sputnik vaccine is now growing. But given that Russia approved Sputnik back in August, long before any other vaccine got the green light, why didn’t it achieve wider use more quickly? Why didn’t the European Union, which faces a massive vaccine shortage, order it along with other vaccines which also weren’t yet approved when the orders were being made?

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