Sputnik V: WHO says it looks forward to review Russian vaccine trial details

PT Jyothi Datta MUMBAI | Updated on August 12, 2020

A handout photo provided by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows samples of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, in Moscow, Russia August 6, 2020. Picture taken August 6, 2020.   -  REUTERS

Russia calls ‘foreign criticism’ baseless and caused by competition

The World Health Organisation is in touch with Russian scientists and authorities and looks forward to reviewing details of the trials, the WHO said, on Russia’s announcement that it had the first vaccine against Covid-19.

“WHO is aware that a Covid-19 vaccine has been registered in the Russian Federation’s national medicines registry,” a WHO spokesperson said, responding to a query from BusinessLine.

“Accelerating vaccine research should be done following established processes through every step of development, to ensure that any vaccines that eventually go into production are both safe and effective. Any safe and effective pandemic vaccine will be a global public good, and WHO urges rapid, fair and equitable access to any such vaccines worldwide,” it added.

Welcoming “all advances” in Covid-related vaccine research and development, the WHO pointed out that, at a global level, it has been involved in guiding and accelerating R&D efforts since January 2020.

Concerns raised

The Russian vaccine, labelled Sputnik V, has created a stir in scientific circles since little data is available in the public domain on its working and effects. Researchers have raised safety and efficacy concerns, given that the Russian vaccine appears to have accelerated timelines and proceeded from early human trials in June to register for use in mass inoculation, in two months.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko dismissed the criticism of their vaccine as “baseless” and “caused by competition”, according to news agency Sputnik.

The report quoted the Minister saying that the first batch of the Russian vaccine would be produced and ready for use in two weeks. And while taking it would be voluntary, the priority would be its citizens, mainly medical staff in high-risk groups, it added.

A tracing app was also being developed to help citizens monitor their health and possible adverse effects from the vaccine, the Minister reportedly said.

The vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, is being mass produced at AFK Sistema’s Binnopharm pharmaceutical factory, the news agency said. The total output of the drug is expected to reach 500 million doses in the first 12 months.

In an earlier report quoting the Health Ministry on Sputnik said, “The two-stage injection plan helps form a lasting immunity. The experience with vector vaccines and two-stage scheme shows that immunity lasts for up to two years.”

The vaccine is expected to go into civilian circulation on January 1, 2021, according to the registration certificate, according to Sputnik. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is reportedly investing in the production and promotion of the vaccine abroad, and about 20 countries, including India, are said to be interested in the vaccine.

The vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, is being mass-produced at AFK Sistema’s Binnopharm pharmaceutical factory.

Published on August 12, 2020

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