While two vaccines from the United States hope to get approval in the upcoming weeks, Russia has already given the thumbs up to Sputnik 5, its own anit-Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccine represents Russia’s Moon shot in the effort to find a vaccine that can save the world from this pandemic.
At 92 percent effective, according to Russia, and therefore more effective than the Pfizer vaccine which has an effectiveness of 90 percent — but less than the Moderna vaccine at 94.5 percent. But some question if enough testing has been done to justify that claim.
“Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform. It currently ranks among top-10 candidate vaccines approaching the end of clinical trials and the start of mass production on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list” according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, (RDIF)
Russia is now moving to mass production of the vaccine, and President Vladimir Putin is calling on its fellow members in the BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to also mass produce the vaccine.
“There are Russian vaccines, they work, they work effectively and safely… It’s very important to unite for the mass production of these products into wide circulation,” Putin said during an online BRICS summit today.
The vaccine was created by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and was registered on 11 August 2020 by the Russian Ministry of Health.
The centre is the world’s leading research institution, according to the RDIF.
The centre was founded in 1891 as a private laboratory. In 1949 it was named in honour of Nikolai Gamaleya, a pioneer in Russian microbiology studies.
Gamaleya studied at the laboratory of French biologist Louis Pasteur in Paris and opened the world’s second vaccination station for rabies in Russia in 1886, RDIF says.
Later he worked on mass vaccination campaigns against epidemics of cholera, diphtheria and typhus in the Soviet Union.
Since then the centre has had significant success in creating vaccines, including for Ebola and MERS (the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).
The ongoing Sputnik V post-registration clinical trial in Russia involves 40,000 volunteers, according to the RDIF, and other clinical trials have been announced in the UAE, India, Venezuela and Belarus.
The vaccine is named after the Sputnik which was the first satellite to be launched from Earth, making the then Soviet Union the first country to score that goal in the space race of the 1950s and 60s.
Sputnik orbited the planet for three weeks after its launch on October 4, 1957, and then for two months more after its batteries died. The big bang that its successful launch created especially in the United States, fizzled slightly once it fell back to Earth.
But the ‘Sputnik moment’ did boost the US in its efforts to win the Space Race, which then went all out to get a man to the moon by less than nine years later.
The question remains, will this new Sputnik moment have a similar effect as other companies and nations push for their own Moon shot.