The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, took a big risk when he approved the Sputnik coronavirus jab last summer, before it had even gone through the final safety trial. Thankfully, the test results – available now – have been positive. Its success has led Germany and France to enter talks with Russia about introducing the vaccine in their roll-out programmes. The Sputnik jab is already being administered elsewhere – in Argentina, Hungary and Pakistan.
For the final safety trial for the Sputnik jab, 14,964 people had received the jab; at the same time, 4,902 people have received a placebo.
The results demonstrated that the Sputnik jab was 91.6 percent effective at preventing a Covid infection.
This compares to around 70 percent for the AstraZeneca jab – more than a 20 percent difference.
Both vaccines utilised adenovirus vectors, but the Sputnik jab used two whereas the AstraZeneca jab deployed one.
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The study was well received by scientists, including Dr Penny Ward – a visiting professor in pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London.
“This is a good quality study which confirms the clinical effectiveness of the Gamaleya combined viral vector vaccine,” she said.
Dr Peter English, a consultant in communicable disease control, declared the Sputnik jab was “another highly effective vaccine”.
However, Dr English did remark on Russia’s vaccine strategy, which was implemented before completing safety trials.
“Implementing a vaccine in a large population before seeing your phase III results is hugely risky,” he commented.
“The ethics of giving a product that has the potential to make you ill (or iller) is hugely different when you’re giving a vaccine to a large number of healthy patients, than when you are giving a medicine to a seriously ill patient, who might be prepared to take a risk.”
Although it worked out well for Russia, Dr English said the head-first approach “is definitely not to be recommended”.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer Covid vaccine – administered in the UK – had an efficacy rate of 95 percent, trumping both AstraZeneca and Sputnik.