Russia: Our coronavirus vaccine 95 pct effective, costs less than $10 per dose abroad

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Russia said new results showed its locally developed coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, had over 95 percent efficacy and promised it would cost less than $10 per dose on international markets.

"The second interim analysis of clinical trial data showed over 95 percent efficacy for the Sputnik V vaccine 42 days after administering the first dose and 7 days after the second dose," state news agency TASS reported.

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The Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Health Ministry said it planned to publish the interim results of the safety and efficacy of Sputnik V in early December.

Russia's sovereign wealth fund, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which bankrolled the development of the vaccine said on Tuesday: "The cost of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for international markets will be less than $10 per dose starting from February 2021, which is less than $20 for the two doses necessary to vaccinate one person."

"Thus, Sputnik V will be two or more times cheaper than foreign vaccines based on mRNA technology with similar efficacy rates. For Russian citizens, vaccination with Sputnik V will be free of charge," RDIF said in its statement.

Other frontrunner vaccine candidates are those developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which cost approximately $20 and $15-25 per dose respectively.

RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said: "We are ready to start deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine to foreign markets thanks to partnerships with manufacturers in India, Brazil, South Korea, China and four other countries."

The RDIF said production of the dry form of the vaccine has been launched. The dry (lyophilized) form of the vaccine, which is stored at a temperature of +2 to +8 degrees Celsius, enables " the distribution of the vaccine in international markets, as well as expanding its use in hard-to-reach regions, including areas with tropical climates."

"The first foreign deliveries of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine will be made to customers in January 2021 based on existing partnerships with foreign manufacturers. Those customers, who have recently submitted their requests, will be able to receive the first batches of the vaccine starting from March 2021," the RDIF stated.

Russia drew international criticism for giving Sputnik V regulatory approval in early August, even though it was yet to complete advanced testing among tens of thousands of people, required to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before it is given widely.

An advanced study among 40,000 volunteers was announced two weeks after it received government approval. The trial is still ongoing, but the vaccine is already being offered to people in risk groups — such as medical workers and teachers — despite multiple expert warnings against its wider use before it completes all the necessary testing. Several high-profile officials have said they have already taken it, too.

President Vladimir Putin, who announced Sputnik V’s approval with much fanfare in August, saying one of his daughters had been vaccinated, has touted the jab as effective and safe, but appeared in no rush to take it himself.

Asked whether the president has been vaccinated, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Putin “can’t use an uncertified vaccine.” Peskov pointed out that “widespread vaccination hasn’t started yet, and the head of state can’t take part in the vaccination as a volunteer.”

Two weeks ago, the developers of the vaccine said analysis of the study's early data showed that the vaccine “had an efficacy rate of 92 percent.” The conclusion was based on 20 infections that occurred among 16,000 volunteers.

Moderna said last week its vaccine appears to be 94.5 percent effective after having registered 95 cases of the virus among study participants. Pfizer’s 95 percent efficacy rate was announced after 170 infections were accumulated. On Monday, another drugmaker, Britain’s AstraZeneca, said late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, in a conclusion based on 131 infections.

Developers of the shots said “no unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research.” Some of those vaccinated experienced pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, weakness, fatigue and headache.

Mass vaccination is expected to start in 2021, and more than 2 million doses of Sputnik V will be produced in Russia this year, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Tuesday.

- With The Associated Press

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