Russia’s flagship two-stage vaccine, Sputnik V, has shown efficacy of 91.6 percent against symptomatic Covid-19 in clinical trials, a peer review by Lancet confirms, putting the total number of vaccines confirmed to be greater than 90 percent is, comes to three.
The results of an interim analysis, now confirmed by peer review, also showed that the injection provided full protection against moderate or severe cases of Covid-19.
Alexander Gintsburg, director of Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, the state-run virology research center that developed the jab, said the results were a “monumental achievement” and “a great success in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic.” .
Analysis of participants over the age of 60, of whom about 2,000 took part in the study, suggests the vaccine is equally effective in that cohort. The trial is underway and aims to enroll a total of 40,000 participants.
The participants received two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart.
Since the study dates back a few weeks, it doesn’t include figures on the efficacy of new variants, such as the one first identified in South Africa, that appear to be less susceptible to inoculation. The Gamaleya Institute has said it expects the Sputnik V to provide protection against the new variants.
Concerns about vaccine shortages in Europe have prompted some politicians in the EU to question whether the bloc should turn to the Russian vaccine to help it out of the pandemic.
Hungary became the first EU state to approve Sputnik V last month, while candidate EU member states in the Balkans, such as Serbia, have been pursuing vaccines from China and Russia, while also negotiating bloc-approved jabs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin made Sputnik V the world’s first registered vaccine last August before phase 3 trials even started, alarming scientists who said Moscow was hastily cutting corners to defeat its Western rivals.
Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading, and Polly Roy, a professor of virology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said Russia now has the scientific data needed to back up the claims about Putin’s efficacy.
“The outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination has been demonstrated, meaning that another vaccine can now participate in the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19,” they said.
The state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has sponsored research into the shot, says Moscow hopes to produce up to 1.4 billion doses of the vaccine this year, including in countries like China, Brazil and India.
The European Medicines Agency is in talks about Sputnik, which has already been approved in 16 countries, including Russia, Argentina and Iran.
“Russia has done everything right,” said RDIF Director Kirill Dmitriev. “We were right when we registered it early, we were right with the world that we have one of the most efficient vaccines, and we were right when we started vaccinating our at-risk personnel early. We have saved many lives. “
Despite the promising results, Russia is struggling to get its people on board. Only 46 percent of Russians expressed their willingness to take the vaccine in an Ipsos survey last week, results well behind the US (63 percent), Germany (67 percent) and the UK (86 percent).