Skepticism about the Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology, has been dispelled. Thanks to its scientific results, the Russian vaccine has become one of the potential candidates to fill the vaccine shortage, especially in Europe and the developing world.
Sputnik V vaccine: from skepticism to excess demand
Since it was released before the third and final phase of clinical trials was completed, the Russian vaccine caused a stir in the international scientific community. The controversy it generated led many to believe that it was a geopolitical weapon of Vladimir Putin, intended for purely political purposes, rather than a public health tool designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
However, Sputnik V, once described as a supplemental vaccine, has now demonstrated considerable effectiveness, something that has prompted the various voices to broadcast dubious statements about it. The reactions to the rapid launch of Sputnik V were perhaps understandable at a time when there was no scientific data and clinical trials were not yet complete. But today there is no room for doubt, as the results published in The Lancet have shown that the vaccine is 91.6% effective against symptomatic forms of Covid-19.
One of the best-performing vaccines
The results of the preliminary phase III trials reported last February by the medical journal mentioned above are clear, just as the scientific principle of Sputnik V has been demonstrated. The trials, conducted between September and November, were conducted on about 20,000 participants, of whom about 2,144 were 60 years of age or older. All participants in the trial received two injections 21 days apart, each accompanied by a PCR test. In the days following the second dose, a PCR test was performed only in those who developed symptoms. Overall, 16 of 14,900 volunteers who received both doses of the vaccine tested positive, or 0.1%, compared with 62 of 4,900 who received a placebo, or 1.3%. However, “further research is needed to determine the efficacy of the vaccine in asymptomatic cases and in the transmission of the disease,” according to the Lancet. Nevertheless, the Russian vaccine appears to be effective in protecting against moderate to severe forms of the disease. This makes it one of the best-performing vaccines that can now be used in the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19.
High Demand for Sputnik V in the developing world
Although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will not approve Sputnik V for use in the EU until the end of June, many countries in the developing world are ordering the vaccine to speed up their vaccination campaigns and avoid the European scenario. The number of countries that have approved the Sputnik vaccine exceeds 56. They all granted permission for emergency use of the Russian vaccine, and all have ordered millions of doses for their populations. Unfortunately, the manufacturing capacity so far is unable to meet this great surge in demand for sputnik V. To tackle this problem the Russians have been setting up joint ventures and licensing schemes with different companies from all over the world. In fact just recently Panacea Biotec an India-based company has been licensed to produce 100 million doses of the Russian vaccine to help it meet the global demand.