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‘Sputnik V’: All about Russia’s COVID vaccine and its availability

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Russia has named the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ as an homage to the first-ever artificial Earth satellite,

“In 1957, the successful launch of the first space satellite by the Soviet Union reinvigorated space research around the world. The new Russian Covid-19 vaccine is therefore called Sputnik V,” reports quoting the official government website statement said.

 

On Tuesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on television that the country had registered the world’s first vaccine against coronavirus, which is due to be available to the general public by January. Before then, priority will be given to medical workers and teachers.

One of the biggest concerns is that the approval comes before the completion of human trials. Russia was yet to start a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial, which is normally considered an essential precursor to a regulatory approval.

Putin claims the vaccine offers “sustainable immunity” against Covid-19. He said one of his daughters had received the inoculation and felt better.

Experts say the lack of published data on Russia’s vaccine have left scientists, health authorities and the public in the dark. There exists little clarity about how the vaccine is made and details on safety, immune response and whether it can prevent Covid-19 infection, news agency Reuters reported.

Sputnik V has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is maintaining “close contact with the Russian health authorities.” According to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic, the prequalification of any vaccine requires “rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data,” which the organization is yet to see.

Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, into mass production by the end of the year.

According to Russian government officials, the vaccine will be first administered to medical personnel, and then to teachers, on a voluntary basis at the end of this month or in early September. Mass roll-out in Russia is expected to start in October.

The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two serotypes of a human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response. The platform used for the vaccine was developed by Russian scientists over two decades and had formed the basis for several vaccines in the past, including those against Ebola.