Only time will tell: Russia has placed heavy bets on the vaccine


For Kill Dmitriev, the man responsible for selling the corona virus vaccine to Russia in the world, there is a simple rationale behind Moscow's rapid push to become the first country to develop the corona virus vaccine for widespread use.

Only time will tell: Russia has placed heavy bets on the vaccine


"It's part of the Russian mentality to save the world," said Dmitriev, head of Russia's RDIF Sovereign Wealth Fund, in an interview with the Guardian.

Other people look at things differently. Scientists around the world met the announcement on August 11 by President Vladimir Putin that the Russian vaccine had “passed all the necessary tests” with unease. Many reported that no scientific data had been released’ from the initial trials, and that Phase III trials of the vaccine had not even begun.

Earlier, British security officials accused Russian hackers of stealing secrets from medical facilities in the West. Dmitriev dismissed the criticism and accusations as "concrete attempts to tarnish the Russian vaccine for political reasons."

Clearly, the vaccine race has become another front between Russia and the West. It is no accident that Russia has renamed its vaccine Sputnik V, which again damaged a Soviet satellite launched into orbit in 1957 during a fierce competition with the United States. For Russia, providing the first solution to the epidemic that has affected the corners of the world will be seen’ as a confirmation that the country's scientific mind is still in the best of the world.

"It's like a space race half a century later. “If this is indeed a success story and Russia is the first country to implement an effective vaccine, then this is a great opportunity for PR," said Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian Council for International Affairs in Moscow.

But first, Russia must prove that Sputnik V, developed by Gamaleya, part of the country's Ministry of Health, actually works. In early September, Gamaleya's scientists published the results of Phase One and Two trials in the Lancet, and now Phase Three trials are underway, in which 40,000 volunteers should be vaccinated’ against polio in the coming weeks. ۔ Even at this early stage, however, the government is moving forward with ambitious plans for a wider rollout in the country and beyond.

While there is a clear vision of global greatness, developing a successful vaccine would also be welcome at home, provided Russia ranks fourth in the world for Covid. Another wave is raging, with a dramatic increase in the number of new cases in recent days. On Monday, Putin called on the Russians to take "maximum responsibility" for their conduct and try to minimize code risks.

"We are already vaccinating high-risk groups in different parts of Russia, and we will go to 10 million doses a month in December," Dmitriev said, estimating that within seven to nine months, the Russians the majority will be vaccinated’ against polio. Although food for Russians will be produced’ domestically, Russia hopes to license production to several other countries, including India, and Dmitriev estimates that capacity could reach 500 million doses a year by next year.

This number may be unrealistic, but the confidence with which they are described’ indicates the fact that the Russian authorities have placed a huge bet on the success of this vaccine.

Numerous vaccines are in clinical trials around the world, but the Gamaleya vaccine is the only one that already has a large-scale rollout plan. The vaccine uses two human adenoviruses with a corona virus gene, and comes in two shots at 21-day intervals. Russia's Consumer Protection Office said on Wednesday that the Vector Institute in Siberia had completed clinical trials of another possible vaccine.

Scientists at Gamaleya believe his immunity from the double-shot vaccine should last for two years, although Dmitriev acknowledged that "only time will tell". Some critics of the rollout rate have said that while the vaccine may be self-preserving, it may have the opposite effect if it produces a minimal or only short-term immune response, and vaccines are generally less trusted. Other scientists have been more positive.

"The risks associated with this class of vaccines are not very high, and I think they are likely to provide a level of immunity that is useful," said Ian Jones, a professor of virology at the University of Reading.

Several senior Russian officials, like Putin's daughter, took the vaccine earlier in the summer. "One day I kept the temperature, took some paracetamol, and then I was fine. Now I can see that I have antibodies, "said a member of Russia's political elite, who was vaccinated back in June.

Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. An official said the issue had become so political that it was better not to talk about it and to raise potential risks in government meetings.

Russia is not the only country to have developed the vaccine as a race. In Tuesday's US presidential debate, Joe Biden accused Trump of trying to rush through a vaccine. "They're pushing, and they don't agree with their scientists," Biden said in response to Trump, adding that a vaccine would be ready soon.

A moment of reality for the Russian vaccine will be the result of Phase III tests. As of last Friday, 3,500 people had attended the trial, and all 40,000 should have been shot’ by the end of October, according to the health ministry. A quarter of participants will receive a placebo to compare quad infection rates in both groups. Participants in the trial will have to upload health data in one app for six months.

Officials say membership of the lawsuit has been obtained’ but there are indications that not everyone is participating voluntarily. An employee of the Moscow government department pressured him to sign. "It was made clear that we had to sign up online for the trial. The employee said that when they called me for an appointment, I had to make excuses as to why I could not." A journalist from the shop Meduza, who volunteered for the vaccine, said that when she arrived at the vaccination point, a man was complaining that she had been forced’ to attend.

The Ministry of Health and Gamaleya declined to answer the Guardian's questions, initially promising an interview but then offering a brief written response to the questions, saying the vaccine "proved its safety and effectiveness." “What’s this".

Russia is so confident that the Sputnik V tribunal will not be able to obtain full compensation from buyers, leaving the state open to heavy compensation claims if its major side effects are later’ discovered. Dmitriev claimed that he had already received temporary orders from more than 50 countries for more than 1.2bn doses of the vaccine by next year.

"Unfortunately, the West, for political reasons, will continue to blacken and weaken it, and that is the unfortunate reality of the world," he said.


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