Russia says its coronavirus vaccine is 92% effective, as battle to beat Western drugmakers heats up

  • Russia's sovereign wealth fund (RDIF) said the early results from its late-stage phase three clinical trial of Russia's coronavirus vaccine, called "Sputnik V," showed that its efficacy amounted to 92%.
  • The calculation was "based on the 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo."
  • It says it will publish the interim trial data in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but has not said when.

Russia said Wednesday that its coronavirus vaccine is 92% effective at preventing people from getting Covid-19, according to interim trial results.

Russia's sovereign wealth fund (RDIF) said the early results from its late-stage phase three clinical trial of the vaccine, called "Sputnik V," showed that its efficacy amounted to 92% with the calculation "based on the 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo."

"Currently 40,000 volunteers are taking part in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III of Sputnik V clinical trials, out of which over 20,000 have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine and more than 16,000 with both the first and second doses of the vaccine," a statement published on the dedicated Sputnik V website said Wednesday.

Russia was the first country to register and approve a coronavirus vaccine in August. The announcement prompted concerns from some members of the international scientific community about the speed of the approval — the vaccine had not yet started phase three trials at that point — and lack of available data supporting Russian claims for the vaccine's efficacy and safety.

Russia published some data from early stage clinical trials in September, and has repeatedly insisted that its vaccine is safe and effective. On Wednesday, RDIF said that "were no unexpected adverse events during the trials. Monitoring of the participants is ongoing."

Observation of study participants will continue for six months before a full report of the phase three clinical trials is presented, RDIF said, but it noted that the interim research data will be published by the Gamaleya Center team, which developed the vaccine, "in one of the leading international peer-reviewed medical journals" without indicating when this might be.

Vaccine race

The announcement Wednesday comes hot on the heels of market-changing news on Monday that U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech had developed a Covid vaccine that was more than 90% effective.

Pfizer's analysis evaluated 94 confirmed Covid-19 infections among its trial's 43,538 participants. Pfizer and its  German biotech partner said the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received a placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate of above 90% at seven days after the second dose.

The latest announcement from Russia comes a day after Russia's President Vladimir Putin announced that the country was developing a third vaccine. The president also said Tuesday that Moscow was ready to cooperate with all other countries on vaccines but warned against the "politicization" of the process.

Russia has itself been accused of engaging in a vaccine race as drugmakers around the world try to develop an effective protection against the virus that has caused over 1.2 million deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data.  Russia has the fifth highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections, with around 1.8 million cases reported to date.

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