Putin’s Once-Scorned Vaccine Now Favorite in Pandemic Fight

Source: Bloomberg

By Henry Meyer February 6, 2021, 12:30 AM EST Updated on 

  •  Sputnik V’s 92% efficacy in peer review rivals U.S., EU shots
  •  Production capacity now main brake on Russian ambitions

President Vladimir Putin’s announcement in August that Russia had cleared the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine for use before it even completed safety trials sparked skepticism worldwide. Now he may reap diplomatic dividends as Russia basks in arguably its biggest scientific breakthrough since the Soviet era.

Countries are lining up for supplies of Sputnik V after peer-reviewed results published in The Lancet medical journal this week showed the Russian vaccine protects against the deadly virus about as well as U.S. and European shots, and far more effectively than Chinese rivals.

At least 20 countries have approved the inoculation for use, including European Union member-state Hungary, while key markets such as Brazil and India are close to authorizing it. Now Russia is setting its sights on the prized EU market as the bloc struggles with its vaccination program amid supply shortages.

In the global battle to defeat a pandemic that’s claimed 2.3 million lives in little more than a year, the race to obtain vaccines has assumed geopolitical significance as governments seek to emerge from the huge social and economic damage caused by lockdowns imposed to limit the spread of the virus. That’s giving Russia an edge as one of a handful of countries where scientists have produced an effective defense.

Its decision to name Sputnik V after the world’s first satellite whose 1957 launch gave the Soviet Union a stunning triumph against the U.S. to start the space race only underlined the scale of the significance Moscow attached to the achievement. Results from the late-stage trials of 20,000 participants reviewed in The Lancet showed that the vaccine has a 91.6% success rate.

“This is a watershed moment for us,” Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive officer of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, which backed Sputnik V’s development and is in charge of its international roll-out, said in an interview.

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2 replies

  1. When will the pandemic end? It’s the question hanging over just about everything since Covid-19 took over the world last year. The answer can be measured in vaccinations.

    Bloomberg has built the biggest database of Covid-19 shots given around the world, with more than 119 million doses administered worldwide. U.S. science officials such as Anthony Fauci have suggested it will take 70% to 85% coverage of the population for things to return to normal. Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker shows that some countries are making far more rapid progress than others, using 75% coverage with a two-dose vaccine as a target.

    Israel, the country with the highest vaccination rate in the world, is headed for 75% coverage in just two months. The U.S. will get there just in time to ring in the 2022 New Year (though North Dakota could get there six months sooner than Texas). With vaccinations happening more rapidly in richer Western countries than the rest of the globe, it will take the world as a whole seven years at the current pace.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-04/when-will-covid-pandemic-end-near-me-vaccine-coverage-calculator?sref=eGA8az79

  2. Vaccination drives hold out the promise of curbing Covid-19, but governments and businesses are increasingly accepting what epidemiologists have long warned: The pathogen will circulate for years, or even decades, leaving society to co-exist with Covid-19 much as it does with other endemic diseases like flu, measles, and HIV.

    The ease with which the coronavirus spreads, the emergence of new strains and poor access to vaccines in large parts of the world mean Covid-19 could shift from a pandemic disease to an endemic one, implying lasting modifications to personal and societal behavior, epidemiologists say.

    “Going through the five phases of grief, we need to come to the acceptance phase that our lives are not going to be the same,” said Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I don’t think the world has really absorbed the fact that these are long-term changes.”

    Endemic Covid-19 doesn’t necessarily mean continuing coronavirus restrictions, infectious-disease experts said, largely because vaccines are so effective at preventing severe disease and slashing hospitalizations and deaths. Hospitalizations have already fallen 30% in Israel after it vaccinated a third of its population. Deaths there are expected to plummet in weeks ahead.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-vaccines-raise-hope-cold-reality-dawns-covid-19-is-likely-here-to-stay-11612693803

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