There was much scepticism about the Russian Sputnik V vaccine when it emerged on the world stage last summer and was hailed as the first vaccine to be approved against Covid. Russian president Vladimir Putin gave the vaccine the go-ahead before phase one or two trial results had been published and final phase three trials – which are all important for establishing safety and efficacy – had even begun. Russian officials either took a massive gamble or had access to early data when they began vaccinating their citizens in December. But this was a gamble that appeared to have paid off when the researchers behind Sputnik, named after the satellite that Moscow sent into orbit in a world-first in 1957, published promising phase three results in February. So promising, in fact, that Germany and France are now in talks with Russia over introducing the vaccine into their programmes. Other countries that have already started using the jab include Argentina, Hungary and Pakistan. The results published in the peer-reviewed Lancet – based on a trial of 14,964 people who had the vaccine and 4,902 who had a placebo – show that the jab is 91.6 per cent effective at preventing infection. This compares to around 70 per cent for the AstraZeneca jab and 95 per cent for the Pfizer shot. Efficacy is not the only thing that counts when it comes to Covid-19 jabs, however. All of the leading jabs, including Sputnik and AstraZeneca, have so far proven fully effective at stopping severe cases – those that lead to hospitalisation or death.