Russian ‘Sputnik’ vaccine gets surprisingly high marks in first trial; ‘Great news’ for Latin America

Feb 2, 2021 | 32 comments

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine was 91.6 percent effective in an interim analysis of a phase 3 clinical trial published Tuesday. For severe cases, researchers say the vaccine was 100 percent effective.

The strong results from a clinical trial in Russia, published by the British medical journal The Lancet, indicate that another safe and effective vaccine is joining the world’s arsenal against the virus. On safety, no serious adverse reactions were reported from the vaccine.

The vaccine had faced skepticism because Russia approved it in August before the phase 3 trials were complete. But two British scientists wrote in an accompanying article in The Lancet that despite the skepticism, the results appear strong now that the data is out.

“The development of the Sputnik V vaccine has been criticized for unseemly haste, corner cutting, and an absence of transparency,” wrote the British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy. “But the outcome reported here is clear and the scientific principle of vaccination is demonstrated, which means another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of Covid-19.”

Lancet reviewers said the trial results are “particularly great news” for Latin America, Africa and other developing regions of the world that are having difficulty acquiring sufficient quantities doses from Pfizer and Moderna, vaccines that are focusing their deliveries in North America and Europe.

The Russian vaccine has already been sent to Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela. Other countries in Latin America, including Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia have indicated interest.

Vaccinating people in countries around the world is important for slowing the spread of the virus and cutting its opportunities to mutate and develop into potentially even more dangerous variants.

“Why is this such good news for all of us? Because we need to vaccinate the world,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted about the Russian vaccine results. “Sputnik won’t just be used in Russia — but other nations are going to be using it as well, many of them who are having difficulty obtaining vaccines from other manufacturers. And we need all the safe effective vaccines we can get.”