Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine safe, created immune response in all recipients

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The Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine currently in clinical trials is safe, and the vaccine has created an immune response in 100 percent of volunteer recipients, Russian scientists said on Friday.

Russia announced last month that its vaccine, named “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957, had already received approval, AFP reported.

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“Russia managed to take a leading stance in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine with the help from the Russian government and the Ministry of Health,” one of the scientists speaking at an event hosted by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Russian Federation, and Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

The race is on for a cure and treatment for the novel coronavirus that has touched nearly every corner of the globe, infecting millions, and killing hundreds of thousands.

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Phase III trials have been approved and are currently underway in Moscow, the research team said. When asked how long an immune response may last, one scientist suggested the immune response could last two years or longer.

Of ongoing debate in the medical community is how long an immunity will develop for once a vaccine is developed, such as if the vaccine may develop life-time or seasonal immunity, or something in between.

Western scientists have raised concerns that the vaccine’s trial pool, at just 76 volunteers, was too small. While the scientists in the press briefing acknowledged the criticism, they deflected, saying that their trials were as valid as mammoth biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and other drug makers that included larger volunteer groups.

The Russian scientists said that Sputnik V was based on existing vaccines for adenoviruses. Common adenovirus symptoms include fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye.

There were concerns that the vaccine would not work if there was pre-exiting immunity to adenoviruses, but the team claims the vaccine demonstrated “100 percent immunity against pre-existing immunity.”

Production of Sputnik V will initially focus on meeting local demand in Russia, but as production ramps up, the team said they are looking to partner with India and have also looked to India and Brazil for technological partnerships.

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