Moscow: Russia said on Saturday that it has produced the first batch of its coronavirus vaccine, after President Vladimir Putin announced it had been first in the world to approve a vaccine.

The development came even as the total number of COVID-19 cases crossed the 21 million mark globally. The disease has claimed more than 766,000 lives so far.

Putin’s announcement on Tuesday about the vaccine was met with caution from scientists and the World Health Organization who said it still needed a rigorous safety review.

“The first batch of the novel coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute has been produced,” the health ministry said on Saturday. The vaccine is called Sputnik V.

With more than 915,000 infections, Russia’s caseload is fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.

Meanwhile, a projection by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the pandemic could claim 2,00,000 lives in the US by September 5.

California on Friday became the first US state to surpass 600,000 cases and the Midwest saw several record one-day rises as some states struggled to contain the pandemic even as a few welcomed students back to school campuses.

Also, thousands of British tourists beat a hasty retreat from France, packing out planes, trains and ferries to return to the UK by the early hours of Saturday morning to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home.

Many British travellers in the country opted to cut short their vacations to meet the Saturday 4am deadline that had been announced the night before.