Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the country's homegrown Covid-19 vaccine was as "reliable as a Kalashnikov [AK-47] assault rifle" as the Russian health officials authorised a single-dose version of the Sputnik V jab, dubbed Sputnik Light.
Sputnik V, which in February was announced to be 92 per cent effective, has been approved for emergency use in 64 countries but has yet to be authorised in the European Union.
The Mexican health ministry said yesterday production of the jab in the country was likely to begin in the final week of June.
Russia has also developed and registered two other coronavirus vaccines but their clinical data have not been through a stringent peer review like Sputnik V.
"Our vaccines draw from technology and platforms that have been in operation for decades," Putin told a video conference with senior Russian officials in charge of the pandemic response.
"They are as reliable as a Kalashnikov assault rifle, as one European specialist said."
Putin was referring to comments made by an Austrian doctor in February. Florian Thalhammer, from the Medical University of Vienna, reportedly told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung that "Sputnik V is like a Kalashnikov rifle, a Russian rifle: simple, reliable and effective".
Like the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs, the Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines use a genetically modified common cold virus to deliver the gene of the coronavirus to the body.
Developers of Sputnik Light argue the single-dose vaccine provides sufficient protection at least for the short term and could serve as a major weapon fighting the pandemic.
Sputnik V is widely available in Russia, especially in urban centres like Moscow and St Petersburg, but the uptake has been sluggish: only about 10 per cent of Russians have received at least one dose so far.