Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective in fighting COVID-19
International scientists have given the green light to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, claiming it is nearly 92% effective against COVID-19, according to peer-reviewed test data published in the international medical journal The Lancet..
Experts said the results from the Phase III trials mean the world has another effective weapon to fight the deadly pandemic, and to some extent they justify Moscow’s decision to start using the drug before the final research data is released..
The results compiled by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, which developed and tested the vaccine, were in line with efficacy data from earlier stages of the trial, which has been under way in Moscow since September..
«Sputnik V vaccine development has been criticized for obscene haste, "cutting corners" and lack of transparency», – said Ian Jones (Ian Jones), professor at the University of Reading, and Polly Roy (Polly Roy), Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
«But the result presented here is specific and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated», – scientists not involved in the study said in a commentary published by The Lancet. «Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19».
The results were based on data from 19,866 volunteers, a quarter of whom received a placebo, researchers led by Denis Logunov (Denis Logunov) of the National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology named after N. F. Gamalei.
Since the start of the trial in Moscow, there have been 16 cases of symptomatic COVID-19 among people who received the vaccine and 62 in the placebo group, scientists said..
This showed that a two-dose vaccination regimen – two vaccines based on two different viral vectors administered 21 days apart – was 91.6% effective against symptomatic COVID-19..
Sputnik V is the fourth vaccine worldwide to be published in Phase III trials in leading peer-reviewed medical journals, after Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
Pfizer had the highest efficacy at 95%, followed by Moderna and Sputnik V, while AstraZeneca had an average efficacy of 70%.
Satellite V is also approved for storage in conventional refrigerators rather than freezers, making it easier to transport and distribute, scientists from the Gamalea Institute said Tuesday..
Russia approved the vaccine in August, even before large-scale trials began, saying it was the first country to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine was named "Sputnik-5" not by chance, it was named after the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union.
Shortly thereafter, a small number of health workers began to receive the drug, and widespread adoption began in December, although access was restricted to certain professions such as teachers, health workers and journalists..
In January, the vaccine was offered to all Russians.
«Russia has always been right, – told reporters on Tuesday Kirill Dmitriev (Kirill Dmitriev), head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), responsible for vaccine marketing abroad.
He said the results confirmed the correctness of Russia’s decision to start providing «Satellite V» frontline workers while research was still ongoing and suggested that skepticism about such actions was politically motivated.
«The Lancet has done a very objective job despite some political pressure that may have taken place», – he said.
The number of vaccinated in Russia is still low. The authorities pointed to some early problems with increasing production, while polls showed low demand for the vaccine among Russians.
Russia has already shared data from its Phase III study with regulators in several countries and has begun the process of submitting it to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval in the European Union, Dmitriev said..
Publication of data on a vaccine developed in Russia comes at a time when Europe is trying to ensure sufficient vaccinations for its 450 million citizens due to production cuts by AstraZeneca and Pfizer. During this time, the rollout of the vaccination process in the United States was hampered by the need to store ampoules in ultra-cold freezers and uneven scheduling..
The Sputnik V study involved 2,144 volunteers over 60 years of age, and the vaccine was 91.8% effective when tested in this older group, without any serious side effects that could be associated with the vaccine, the Lancet says in a summary..
Dimitriev from RDIF also said that the Gamaleya Institute is testing a vaccine against new variants of COVID-19, and the first preliminary results were positive..
The vaccine also proved to be 100% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, as there were no cases among the 78 participants who were infected and had symptoms 21 days after the first vaccine was given..
There have been four deaths of the members, according to The Lancet, but none of them considered vaccination-related.
«Effectiveness looks good, including over the age of 60», – said Danny Altmann (Danny Altmann) Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London. «It’s good to have another addition to the world’s arsenal».
The study authors noted that since COVID-19 cases were only detected when study participants reported symptoms, further research is needed to understand the effectiveness of Sputnik V in asymptomatic cases and transmission.
Sputnik V has been approved by 15 countries, including Argentina, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates, and will rise to 25 by the end of next week, RDIF’s Dmitriev said..
The National Wealth Fund (NWF) also announced that vaccinations using the Sputnik V will begin in a dozen countries, including Bolivia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Iran..
Hungary was the first member of the European Union to step out and unilaterally approve the vaccine last month. She should receive the first batch of 40,000 doses soon..
Germany has said it will use Sputnik V if approved by the European drug regulator, and France has said it is ready to buy any effective vaccine..
However, large quantities of the vaccine have so far been sent only to Argentina, which has received enough doses to vaccinate about 500,000 people. According to the fund, export products will be mainly produced by RDIF’s foreign production partners..
Dmitriev said Tuesday that production has begun in India and South Korea and will be launched in China this month. Test doses were also produced by the manufacturer in Brazil.
Russia is also conducting small-scale clinical trials of a single-dose version of the vaccine, the effectiveness of which, according to the developers’ forecasts, ranges from 73% to 85%..