Russia claims its Covid vaccine is up to 95% effective

A vaccine for coronavirus developed by Russia is up to 95% effective at stopping people developing Covid-19 symptoms, according to its developers.

Second interim data from the Sputnik V vaccine appears to provide 91.4% protection 28 days after the first dose and the researchers say the figure is as high as 95% 42 days after the first dose.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is the country’s sovereign wealth fund – said that the vaccine will cost less than £7 per dose for international markets, and is expected to become available in February 2021.

Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said: ‘The uniqueness of the Russian vaccine lies in the use of two different human adenoviral vectors which allows for a stronger and longer-term immune response as compared to the vaccines using one and the same vector for two doses.’

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He added: ‘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.’

It means there is yet another promising vaccine available, following the success of vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford University with AstraZeneca.

The two-part Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the state-run N F Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow, is based on weakened versions of adenoviruses modified to express the coronavirus spike protein.

The findings, which are yet to be peer-reviewed, is from new clinical trial data based on 39 confirmed cases and 18,794 patients.

The announcement comes following the news that the AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine can prevent up to 90% of people from getting symptoms of Covid-19.

Initial findings, published in The Lancet in September, showed Russia’s vaccine had a good safety profile and induced an antibody response in all participants within 21 days.

The researchers said the next interim data analysis will be conducted when there are 78 confirmed coronavirus cases among the study participants.

The final data analysis is expected to become available by the end of phase three clinical trials, which are currently ongoing.

The researchers said no unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the trial, but added some of those who were vaccinated had short-term side effects such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms including fever, weakness, fatigue, and headache.

Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya centre, said: ‘It is very important that the second interim efficacy analysis of Sputnik V has confirmed our findings from the first stage and shown its efficacy at 91-92%.

‘Let me stress that the second analysis was conducted a week after volunteers got the second dose, meaning that their bodies have partially reacted to both doses.

‘We expect the efficacy rate to be even higher based on the data three weeks after the second immunisation when the body’s strongest and most stable response is achieved.

‘We plan to conduct the third interim data analysis after 78 confirmed coronavirus cases among volunteers and we have every reason to believe that the results will exceed our initial expectations.’

The researchers said the Sputnik V vaccine can be stored at between 2-8C, unlike vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna which require far lower temperatures.

Commenting on the findings, Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading, said: ‘The Sputnik V vaccine data looks impressive especially as the number of participants is high and the data was analysed only seven days after the second dose, too soon for the immune response to the boost to be fully in effect.

‘On the face of it the data would appear to have the edge on the Oxford/AZ trial as the Oxford 90% protection figure was observed in only a subset of trial participants who received a lower first dose.

‘However, a full comparison will only be possible when all the data is released.’

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