Russian Covid-19 Vaccine Was Highly Effective in Trial, Boosting Moscow’s Rollout Ambitions
By Georgi Kantchev
Sputnik V shot achieved 91.6% efficacy in preventing coronavirus symptoms, handing the country a geopolitical coup
MOSCOW—Russia’s homegrown Sputnik V vaccine showed high levels of efficacy and safety in a peer-reviewed study, handing Moscow a geopolitical coup and a potential slice of the multibillion-dollar vaccine market as it seeks to promote the Covid-19 shot abroad and curb the pandemic at home.
Tuesday’s findings, from a preliminary analysis of a large-scale clinical trial published in the British medical journal the Lancet, demonstrated that the two-shot vaccine was 91.6% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and offered complete protection against severe cases. There were no serious side effects, the paper said. The vaccine was also found to be similarly safe and effective in elderly people.
The endorsement of Sputnik V presents a significant victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the global vaccination race, providing a vote of confidence in the capability of Russian science and medicine and helping to deflect some of the criticism Moscow encountered for its fast-tracked development of the vaccine and lack of published trial data.
The Russian shot’s efficacy rate is almost equal to vaccines developed by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE , which are around 95% effective, and outshines the vaccine produced by the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC, which has published efficacy rates at between 62% to 90% in late clinical trials, with most trial results in the lower end of that range.
Russia—the world’s fourth worst-hit country with nearly four million cases—has banked on Sputnik V to avoid new costly lockdowns as its economy reels from plummeting prices for its oil, a critical industry for the country. Authorities here plan to vaccinate 60% of the domestic population by the end of the year.