Tashkent-Uzbekistan on Wednesday became the latest country to certify Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for mass use, saying it planned to purchase one million doses for the country of 34 million.

Two-shot Sputnik V is leading the vaccine race in Central Asia, a five-country former Soviet region with close political and economic ties to Moscow. Uzbekistan’s state coronavirus commission said Sputnik V was “certified and approved for mass use in Uzbekistan” and the country was “taking practical measures” to secure an initial batch of one million doses. 

The news comes after a pharmaceutical factory in neighbouring Kazakhstan said on Tuesday that it had gained approval from Kazakh authorities to produce and distribute Sputnik V. The factory expects to distribute 90,000 doses by the end of February.