Russia’s COVID Vaccine Rush Job Is Nearly as Effective as Moderna and Pfizer

The early results of a phase 3 trial have found Sputnik V to be 91.6% effective.

Feb 2 2021, 6:06pm

Sputnik V—the Russian-developed COVID-19 vaccine with an accelerated development and approval that raised eyebrows among scientists—seems to actually work well, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal Tuesday.

The early results of a phase 3 clinical trial with nearly 22,000 participants between November and September showed that the Sputnik V vaccine was 91.6% effective, according to the study published by researchers.

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“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticised for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency,” scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy, who were not involved in the research, wrote in the Lancet. “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.

Sputnik V is nearly as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which showed around 95% efficacy in large-scale trials. A third vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson, which is currently awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, showed 66% efficacy in a recent global study

The Sputnik V vaccine also proved to be safe, with just 45 participants of the 16,427 who received the vaccine (more than 5,000 were in the placebo group) experiencing “serious adverse events.”  

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The Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow, and became the first in the world to gain regulatory approval last August, when it was authorized by the Russian government. That decision was criticized at the time as being far too early, particularly when large-scale clinical trials hadn’t yet been completed. In response to the outcry, clinical trials for Sputnik V were expanded.

Last year, there were other ethical questions that surfaced around the development of Sputnik V.

The Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute in Moscow, and became the first in the world to gain regulatory approval last August, when it was authorized by the Russian government. That decision was criticized at the time as being far too early, particularly when large-scale clinical trials hadn’t yet been completed. In response to the outcry, clinical trials for Sputnik V were expanded.

Last year, there were other ethical questions that surfaced around the development of Sputnik V.

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Gamaleya Research Institute director Alexander Gintsburg and his staff began injecting themselves with the vaccine in April of 2020, he told CNN last October, defending the decision as necessary to keep the development of the vaccine rolling.

"We vaccinated ourselves and our staff,” Gintsburg told CNN. “Primarily, the staff that participate in developing this vaccine product. I don't have that many staffers, so I value every employee very much...I couldn't allow this to happen, to lose any of our staffers as a result of being infected by COVID-19."

There has also been controversy in Russia over whether it’s safe to drink soon after getting vaccinated, with Russia’s deputy prime minister overseeing health cautioning against drinking for six weeks

However, Gintsburg disagreed with the warning, to an extent. 

"One glass of champagne won't hurt anyone, not even your immune system,” he said in a tweet posted by the vaccine’s account

Sputnik V’s high rate of effectiveness adds another weapon to the arsenal fighting against the worst global pandemic in nearly a century. More than 440,000 people have died in the U.S. alone as a result of coronavirus over the past year. 

Each part of the two-shot vaccine is administered 21 days apart. Unlike vaccines produced by Moderna and Pfizer, Sputnik V was created using two different kinds of adenoviruses, a family of viruses which includes the common cold. 

It’s much more storage-flexible than Pfizer’s vaccine, only requiring normal fridge temperatures, and it’s also cheaper, with the price set at less than $10 per shot. The vaccine has already been distributed to six countries, and more than 50 others have applied for nearly 2.5 billion doses, a spokesperson for the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which funded the vaccine’s development, told the AP

Kirill Dmitriev, the RDIF’s CEO, called it “a vaccine for all mankind” in a statement. 

“This is a great day in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dmitriev said in a statement. The data published by The Lancet proves that not only Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine, but also one of the best.”

Tagged:

russia, World News, Moderna, pfizer, Coronavirus, vaccine, world coronavirus, covid-

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