India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the Russian government on Friday for successfully containing the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and showered praises on the country's scientists for developing a vaccine against the fatal disease. Russian President Vladimir Putin last month made the announcement that the country's scientists had successfully developed a COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V, which he labelled was the world's first registered vaccine. Putin had stated that one of his daughters too had already been vaccinated and added that it worked "quite effectively" forming a "stable immunity".

During his address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting on Friday, Mr Singh said, "I congratulate the government and people of Russia for successfully managing the pandemic." The minister added, "We applaud Russian scientists and health workers for spearheading the Sputnik V vaccine. I wish you all health and success in this time of pandemic!"

Russia has extended a partnership to India on collaborating on the manufacture of its Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine including conducting its phase 3 critical human trial in the country. Having said that, there have been plenty of doubts in regard to the limited data on the effectiveness of the Russian vaccine. Russian government is also in the meantime said to be holding discussions with leading drug manufacturers in India to produce the vaccine locally. 

Mr Singh is on a three-day visit to Moscow to participate in the meeting of defence ministers of the eight-member SCO grouping. He spoke with his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu on Thursday and acknowledged the "steadfast support" provided by the country in terms of defence and security needs.

Russia has so far recorded over 1 million coronavirus cases to date, with the casualty toll standing at 17,598 persons, according to the data published by Johns Hopkins University.