Vaccine could be rolled out ‘by end of winter’ says expert
Like the Cold War satellite of the same name, Russia hoped Sputnik V would be a world-beater. It was the first to be registered for emergency use although it had only been tested on a few dozen people, but now, after Britain became the first country in the West to administer a Covid-19 vaccine, Russians are also receiving a similar offer. It is part of a mass inoculation campaign ordered by President Putin, but Sputnik V is still in the midst of trials to check it’s safe and actually works, leading to some Russians being wary of listening to their President.
In an independent poll by the Levada Centre, 59 percent of respondents said they would not get the vaccine, even if it was voluntary and free of charge.
The research suggested their concerns were based on suspicions raised by Putin’s actions.
And the University of Plymouth’s Dr Tina Joshi says they have grounds to be sceptical.
She told Express.co.uk: “There are a couple of issues. If the trials are still ongoing then it is a cause for concern when they are rolling it out.
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“The data needs to be out there.
“We are lucky that, in the UK, we have the data there. We have the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) who have reviewed the data for the Pfizer vaccine and have declared it okay to rollout.
“We’ve gone through the process, the regulatory process.”
Sputnik’s developers claim it offers 95 percent protection against the coronavirus, placing it alongside developments in the US and Europe.
That conclusion was based on 39 infections among 18,794 study participants that received both doses of either the vaccine or the placebo.
It is a much lower number of infections than Western drugmakers looked at when assessing the effectiveness of their vaccines.
Svetlana Zavidova, whose organisation monitors clinical trials in Russia, would like to see further studies.
She said: “We hope the vaccine is effective, but it’s difficult to trust some of the figures.
“We don’t see the point of such a rush, other than announcing how we beat the rest of the world.
“I think there’s a struggle between scientists and politicians, and the latter are winning.”
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And Dr Joshi agrees.
She told Express.co.uk: “I’m unaware of what the process is in Russia, but if they do not have the full safety data that is pretty concerning.
“If the trials are still ongoing, then it is quite likely that the efficiency numbers have been fluctuated.
“Again, it is concerning, but if they are mass testing it, then they should be able to issue the final official data regarding the vaccine soon.
“We want this vaccine to be useful.”
Like other countries, Russia presents its trial results to an external panel of experts for analysis, but that process has not been fully completed yet.
Moreover, Putin faces more potential setbacks after boasting that tens of millions of doses of their vaccine would be rolling off conveyor belts this year.
It is looking more likely to be a fraction of that.
The Kremlin now expects a modest two million doses of Sputnik by the end of December.
The Russian vaccine comprises two entirely different injections – using different “vectors” or carriers for the coronavirus each time.
This process is said to make it more effective, but it also piles extra pressure on producers.
But Dr Joshi says it is critical that Sputnik V is a success for the global recovery from the pandemic.
She continued: “We don’t want just one or two vaccines, we are going to need so many globally to inoculate and vaccinate the world population.
“It’s not just about the UK and that is very important to understand.
“All these viruses trigger an immune response, so despite how they are developed, it doesn’t really matter.
“As long as it produces that immune response, those antibodies and t-cell responses that we need to be able to fight the infection.”
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