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Help comes from the East
Photo credit: E. Samarin / https://www.mos.ru/mayor/themes/18299/6993050/?utm_source=search&utm_term=news
In recent days, the #1 topic in the Western and Russian media is the confirmation of the effectiveness and safety of the Sputnik V vaccine by The Lancet, one of the most authoritative medical journals in the world. The World Health Organization has already stated that they consider the presented test results as proof of the quality of the Russian vaccine.
This news did not come as a surprise - at least for those who live in Russia or have followed the news on the drug in the Russian media. Vaccination with this vaccine began in Russia more than a month ago. However, for the Western countries, where the attitude towards the Russian drug was initially very skeptical, the confirmation of the effectiveness of Sputnik V became almost a sensation. This is evidenced by the number of publications in various media, and political statements on this matter.
Perhaps, the headline by Die Welt became the catchiest one. The German journalists compared the effect of the Russian vaccine entering the international market with the surprise caused by the USSR's launch of the first artificial Earth satellite back in 1957. “Since then, in the technical sphere, Russia, perhaps, could not surprise the West with anything. Only the coronavirus vaccine that entered the market early showed: perhaps Russia is still not just "Upper Volta plus nuclear missiles" (Helmut Schmidt). In addition, the vaccine proved to be highly effective, as follows from the first Western studies,” the German newspaper wrote.
The efficiency of Sputnik V, according to The Lancet, was 91.6%. This is more than AstraZeneca (70%) and Johnson & Johnson (about 70%). At the same time, the Russian drug completely, 100%, protects against severe and moderate cases of COVID-19, and the level of antibodies in volunteers was 1.3-1.5 times higher than in patients who had recovered. It is important that the high efficacy of the vaccine was also confirmed in test participants over 60 years old, as this is the most vulnerable category. The Gamaleya Research Institute, the vaccine developer, claim that Sputnik V will also protect against new strains of coronavirus - British and South African ones.
The Russian vaccine has shown itself to be an extremely safe remedy - no serious side effects, apart from mild colds and short-term fever, have yet been found. Compared to RNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna, which are similar in effectiveness (more than 90%) but caused dozens of deaths in different countries (in Sweden, for example, 55 people died after vaccination) and many severe allergic reactions, this is an excellent result.
In addition, the Russian vaccine at a price of about $ 10 per dose is currently cheaper than most Western counterparts. In comparison, the vaccine of the American Pfizer and the German BioNTech for the European Union will cost more than $ 18 per dose. To achieve a more reliable result, a two-time vaccine administration is recommended, however, after the first injection, the effectiveness of Sputnik V (that is, the percentage of vaccinated people who have developed immunity) is 87.6%, - these data are given in the report of professor Hildegund Ertl at the Wistar Institute Vaccine Center (US).
And the final point. Unlike other vaccines, which require storage at -70 degrees Celsius, Sputnik V can be stored in an ordinary refrigerator at temperatures from 2 to 8 degrees above zero. This is an important advantage, since proper transportation and storage of vaccines can be an overwhelming task associated with serious expenses for many countries.
The bewilderment of Europeans after the success of Russian scientists can be understood. Having got used to looking down on Russia, they found themselves in a difficult situation. Europe is in the midst of the third wave of coronavirus, and the situation with the vaccines is still uncertain. Mass vaccination started a month ago - and failed due to the lack of the required amount of drugs. The European bureaucracy itself is to blame for this: having fiddled with the conclusion of contracts and obtaining regulatory approval, European countries began to receive vaccines on a leftover basis: for Pfizer and Moderna, deliveries to the United States are priority, and for AstraZeneca - to the UK. The hopes pinned on the French Sanofi have not yet come true - the company has postponed the mass release of its vaccine until the end of 2021.
It seems that now Europeans do not have much choice - the European market will be open for Sputnik V, despite the fact that the European media very willingly participated in the campaign to discredit the Russian vaccine at the stage of development. “Despite the campaign to discredit the vaccine, which began even before its registration, and attempts to create doubts about its effectiveness, the Gamalei Institute worked and proved that this is one of the best vaccines in the world,” said Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which participated in the development of the vaccine. According to Dmitriev, the documents for approval have already been submitted to the European regulator, the European Medical Association.
To date, the first Russian vaccine has already been registered in 20 countries, in 7 of them (Russia, Belarus. Argentina, Serbia, Bolivia, Algeria, Kazakhstan, as well as in the LPR and DPR) vaccinations are already underway. More than 50 countries have applied or expressed interest in purchasing the Russian vaccine, and the backlog (including preliminary agreements), according to The Wall Street Journal, has already reached 2.4 billion doses. This year, the production capacity may reach 1.4 billion doses, including production sites in China, Brazil and India.
Meanwhile, Russia has a second vaccine on its way - EpiVacCorona, which has successfully passed the main tests and will be used in mass vaccination since March. The vaccine shows an efficiency of 100% and has practically no side effects.