Published: Wed, February 03, 2021

Russian coronavirus vaccine achieves over 90 percent efficacy: Lancet

Russian coronavirus vaccine achieves over 90 percent efficacy: Lancet

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 has been found to be 91.6% effective in fighting the virus.

British scientists reacting to the findings, published in the prestigious journal The Lancet, said the United Kingdom should be "more careful about being overly critical about other countries" vaccine designs'.

In a comment published alongside the Lancet paper, Profs Ian Jones and Polly Roy said: "The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency". "But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19", said the researchers who were not involved in the study.

"Our interim analysis of the randomised, controlled, phase 3 trial of Gam-COVID-Vac in Russian Federation has shown high efficacy, immunogenicity, and a good tolerability profile in participants aged 18 years or older", Inna V Dolzhikova, co-lead author, Gamaleya national research centre for epidemiology and microbiology in Russian Federation, said. President Vladimir Putin personally broke the news on national television and said one of his daughters had already been vaccinated with it. At the time, the shot had only been tested in several dozens of people. In the trial, participants were given one dose of rAd26-S, followed by a booster dose of rAd5-S 21 days later. Out of the total 19,866 participants, 16 cases of symptomatic Covid-19 were confirmed in the vaccine group 21 days after the first vaccine dose. Four deaths were reported in the trial, none of which were considered related to the vaccine, they said, adding most reported adverse events were mild, including flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy.

A sub-analysis of 2,000 adults older than 60 years suggests the vaccine was similarly effective and well-tolerated in this age group. Developers of the vaccine cited ethical concerns about using placebo shots.

In addition to its contract with Gamaleya, Argentina has agreements with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford regarding their vaccine, and another deal with the Covax mechanism of the World Health Organisation (WHO), through which as many as nine million doses could arrive.

Some experts say that approach may explain why the Russian vaccine seems to have produced a better immune response than the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has a reported efficacy rate of about 60 to 70 per cent. The Russian-made jab is distinguished from Oxford/AstraZeneca's shot - which is based on similar technology - because it uses two different viruses in each shot.

Sputnik V began being rolled out in a large-scale vaccination campaign in Russian Federation in December, with doctors and teachers the first in line to get the shot. Last month, Putin ordered the effort to be expanded and for mass immunizations to start.

"Russia was right all along", Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is responsible for marketing the vaccine overseas, told reporters on Tuesday. Some Russian media questioned the number, suggesting that the rollout has been much slower, with many Russian regions reporting small numbers of vaccinations.

Russian Federation has already shared data from its Phase 3 trial 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.

India's Hetero Biopharma has already announced a deal with the RDIF to make more than 100 million doses of Sputnik V and Indian drugmaker Dr. Reddy's, which has conducted clinical trials, will help in distributing the vaccine. In all, more than 50 countries submitted applications for 2.4 billion doses, a RDIF spokesman told The Associated Press.

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