Russia said its coronavirus vaccine is more than 95% effective, according to new preliminary data, with a success rate similar to the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
Russian officials he also claimed their vaccine was more effective than the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine because of Russia’s own technology, which it offered to share with British scientists.
“Sputnik is showing very high efficiencies, exceeding 95%,” Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian direct investment fund, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This is arguably positive news not only for Russia, but for the whole world, for every country.”
Preliminary results were made public as competition among vaccine developers accelerated to mass produce coronavirus jab and help end the epidemic.
However, Russia’s official figures do not convince everyone, and suspicions have been heightened by the fact that the Russian authorities quickly authorized the vaccination before the results of the third phase were available, as well as reports that state employees were forced to participate in the investigations. .
While many countries have expressed interest in studying or purchasing the vaccine, few Western countries have applied. Of the EU nations, only Hungary expressed serious interest, which caused friction with the other members of the bloc. A spokesman for the European Commission said the body “has no data on this Russian vaccination,” Interfax reported Tuesday night.
The results of Sputnik were calculated after a 42-day study in which 19,000 participants received two doses of vaccine and 21,000 participants received a single dose. Previous data showed that the efficacy of the vaccine was approximately 91.4% 28 days after participants received the first dose.
Top officials, including Dmitriev, say they took the vaccine and said they were feeling well. The Kremlin said on Monday that Vladimir Putin did not have a coronavirus jab, a spokesman said the president could not attend a medical hearing.
“After all, the president can not use unjustified vaccinations,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman.
Successful vaccination is key to Russia’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 2.15 million people in the country and is currently spreading at a record rate. Vladimir Putin and many regional leaders hesitated to introduce a widespread closure similar to the beginning of the year because of the damage to the country’s economy.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said the country’s priority was for Russians to have access to the vaccine. “Every person in every region of the country should be given the opportunity to be vaccinated against the disease,” he said, adding, “No one is forced to do so.”
But the development of the vaccine at Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute was also driven by the economic appeal of foreign sales and the country’s scientific pride, which was compared to the Cold War space race when Soviet Sputnik 1 was the world’s first satellite to launch into orbit around the Earth.
Dmitriev, who was tasked with selling the vaccine abroad, said a dose of the vaccine would cost up to $ 10 (£ 7.50) in international markets – about half the cost of Pfizer vaccination.
He predicted that more than 1 billion doses will be produced next year in countries such as India, Korea, Brazil, China and Hungary, the first and so far only EU country to show serious interest in Russian vaccination.
Last week, ten samples arrived in Budapest with a temperature-controlled flight.
The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, who is currently in discussions with other European leaders about plans to link EU budget resources to the rule of law, has previously been criticized for his friendship with the Kremlin.
The Hungarian government said it had pre-ordered a number of different vaccines, including those made in Russia and China, and Orbán promised that individual citizens would be able to choose which vaccine to take.
“Because vaccination won’t be mandatory if there are multiple vaccinations, everyone can decide for themselves which one they trust the most: a business-centric approach by a U.S. company, a Russian vaccine developed by the state, or China,” he said.
According to Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian scientists are now testing the Russian vaccine in laboratories “so that they can make a well-informed decision on its possible use and authorization”.
However, under EU rules, vaccination must be authorized by the European Medicines Agency before any Member State can approve a general use.
“The question arises as to whether a member state wants to give its citizens a vaccine that has not been reviewed by the EMA,” a European Commission spokesman told Reuters last week, adding that using an untested vaccine could undermine confidence. vaccinations in the general population.
George Soros, a Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist who became the target of a long-running smear campaign by the Orbán government, wrote in an article last week that Hungary’s interest in the Russian vaccination “deserves to be investigated.” corruption against the Hungarian prime minister’s inner circle. Soros pointed out that Hungary seems to have paid up to 50 times more for fans than Germany, which is why some question the motives of the shops.
In response, Orbán called Soros “the most corrupt man in the world” and did not welcome his advice on which vaccine to buy. “It’s not Soros’s job to decide which vaccine is good and which isn’t.” This is up to the laboratories and the Hungarian people, who are free to choose from several vaccines. “