According to a recent publication, the Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology (Gamaleya Institute) Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine shows a 90% effective rate during studies. Now the Russian owners of this vaccine, represented by the Russian Direct Investment Fund inked a preliminary agreement between CanSino Biologics in Tianjin, China, and a Russian partner company called Petrovax Pharm LLC owned by billionaire Vladimir Potanin. If this deal goes through, the two groups would combine vaccines to introduce what they hope to be greater protection against existing and mutant SARS-CoV-2 strains. According to recent press updates, the group is now negotiating the trial design that would introduce CanSino’s candidate in place of Sputnik for the second shot. Could the combination of these two different vaccines generate better results?
With growing pressure on vaccine producers in the West and in places such as Russia and China, could this be part of a new trend? Bloomberg recently produced this report on an interesting emerging alliance. TrialSite has observed the trend the, for the most part, the Western-Aligned markets (North America, Europe, Australia, Japan) will consume vaccines from the West (Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, CureVac, et al.) while in the developing and low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) the vaccines from China and Russia will be more prevalent. Although vaccines from the West, especially ones that are easier to distribute and store, such as the Oxford vaccine, will be consumed in LMICs.
Put another way, the most lucrative markets, the United States, Germany, Japan, UK, France, Netherlands and Scandinavia will overwhelmingly opt into vaccines from the West.
Sputnik V Appears Safe
As reported recently by The Lancet, the study authors articulated that based on interim results from a pivotal Phase 3 trial, the Sputnik V vaccine shows strong protection across various participant groups in the study. Now also known as “Gam-COVID-Vac,” the vaccine is based on adenovirus 26 (Ad26) and adenovirus 5 (Ad5) as vectors for the expression of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, reports the authors. Apparently, by offering two different serotypes over a span of 21 days, the sponsors sought to “overcome any pre-existing adenovirus immunity in the population.” According to the analysis, the efficacy of the Russian vaccines equals 91.6%.
This apparently differs from the AZD1222 vaccine (AstraZeneca/Oxford) which uses the same material during both jabs.
Critical Views of Sputnik
The authors in The Lancet noted that the Sputnik V makers were heavily criticized “for unseemly haste, corner-cutting and an absence of transparency.” TrialSite acknowledges it falls in that camp. The group (Gamaleya and the Russian government) completely bypassed Phase 3 clinical trials in a shrewd, inappropriate marketing move to declare the vaccine “registered.” All sorts of unorthodox means were employed, from what the West would consider way-out-there unethical, such as preclinical early-stage testing on humans to “VIP” participation groups. By Nov., the Russians were declaring the vaccine was 92% effective, but TrialSite wondered about the timing and the transparency.
Demand Appears to Grow for Sputnik V
All criticisms aside now, reviewers in The Lancet state that emerging transparency coupled with disclosure of approach and study data indicates that the candidate appears solid. And the demand for this product soars with scientific transparency and positive results. Although its not clear how much actual money these deals are worth.
But perhaps that’s besides the point of so called Vaccine Diplomacy is the aim with broader agendas.
According to some press in India, claiming that at least 19 countries have approved Sputnik for inoculation including one in the EU (Hungary) also noting that major BRIC nations India and Brazil are close to authorizing the vaccine.
Sure enough, a visit to the RDIF website evidence a flurry of deal-making led by the Harvard and Stanford trained Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of this sovereign Russian wealth fund. What are some recent authorizations of this Sputnik V vaccine:
- Feb 6 Myanmar
- Feb 5 Lebanon
- Feb 3 Nicaragua
- Feb 3 Mexico (first country in North Am)
- Feb 1 Armenia
- Jan 30 Tunisia
- Jan 29 Republic of Guinea
- Jan 21 Hungary (first country in EU)
- Jan 21 United Arab Emirates
- Jan 18 Turkmenistan
- Jan 15 Paraguay
- Jan 13 Venezuela
The deal-making continued as a number of other countries have signed up.