Sputnik V 

#GS3 #Biotechnology #Health 

Nearly nine months into the Covid-19 outbreak, Russia became the first country to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine, dubbed “Sputnik V” (a reference to the world’s first satellite), for civilian use. 

How does the vaccine work? 

  • Russia’s vaccine is based on the DNA of a SARS-CoV-2 type adenovirus, a common cold virus. 
  • The vaccine uses the weakened virus to deliver small parts of a pathogen and stimulate an immune response. 
  • Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Moscow’s Gamaleya National Research Centre, maintained that the coronavirus particles in the vaccine cannot harm the body as they cannot multiply. 

Concerns  

  • So far, Russia has only made public the results of phase-I of the clinical trials, which they claimed were successful and produced the desired immune response. Phase I human trials started on June 17 among 76 volunteers, with most being recruited from the military. 
  • According to the news report, the phase-II trials were started on July 13. On August 3, Russian media reported that Gamaleya Institute had completed clinical trials. The reports, however, did not specify whether all the three stages of clinical trials were over, or only stage-II was completed. Phase II trials usually take a few months to be completed. 
  • Interestingly, Russia had earlier indicated that Phase III human trials, where a candidate vaccine is tested on tens of thousands of people for its effectiveness in real-life situations, will be completed after the shot received regulatory approval. 
  • What has raised the hackles of experts is the fact that human trials for the vaccine, which takes several years in normal circumstances, have been completed in less than two months. 

Response from Russia  

  • Russia has claimed that fast-track delivery of vaccine was made possible due to the fact that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate closely resembled a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) disease, caused by another coronavirus, that had already been tested extensively. 
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