DUBAI: Sputnik V, the Russian anti-COVID vaccine, has been given the green light by the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet and is set to expand its global roll-out, including in the Middle East.
The Lancet on Tuesday published a peer-reviewed article which showed the Russian product joining the ranks of vaccines with more than 90 percent efficacy. It also rated Sputnik’s advantages in terms of safety, logistics and longevity.
Kirill Dmitriev is the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has led the development of the vaccine.
He said that the drug, which is already registered in 16 countries, would be in 25 in the next two weeks and that he was in talks with Saudi health authorities and drug companies to register and manufacture the jab in the Kingdom.
The Russian vaccine, the first to be registered by any national authority, has been criticized in some quarters because of a lack of testing and transparency. But Dmitriev said that Russia was “right” all along.
“This is a vaccine for all mankind,” he added. “This is a great day in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The data published by The Lancet proves that not only is Sputnik V the world’s first registered vaccine, but also one of the best.”
Sputnik, which was developed at the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, was subjected to a third-phase review involving 19,866 volunteers receiving the two-dose treatment. It showed 91.6 percent efficacy. Until now, only the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna have achieved 90 percent-plus efficacy rates in third-phase trials.
“Sputnik V generated a robust humoral and cell-mediated immune response,” The Lancet said, adding that it had an “excellent” safety profile.
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It found “no serious adverse events associated with vaccination, as confirmed by an independent data monitoring committee - no strong allergies, no anaphylactic shock.”
Publication in The Lancet is not an official medical endorsement but does mean the drug has been reviewed by a body of scientific experts and is a serious potential treatment for the disease.
In a statement, the RDIF said that Sputnik V had advantages over other vaccines with a 90 percent efficacy rate, including “a well-studied and highly efficient human adenoviral vector mechanism proven safe over decades; the vaccine’s low cost in comparison to other approaches; and fewer logistics requirements with a storage temperature of between two to eight degrees celsius allowing for easier distribution worldwide.”
Dmitriev said that the fund’s partnership with AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish drug company that has produced its own vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University, could raise the efficacy rate of the Oxford product over a two-shot dosage.
He said that he was in discussions with medical authorities in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Azerbaijan to conduct clinical trials of a joint Sputnik-Oxford product.
RDIF is also talking to Chinese vaccine producers about joint ventures to improve the efficacy of their products, Dmitriev said.