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Sputnik V is officially useless
Russians promised "updated" vaccine but won't be allowed to see trial data
Sputnik V no longer protects against COVID-19 and will have to be replaced with an “updated” vaccine, according to Gamaleya Center director Alexander Gintsburg.
The mastermind behind Russia’s flagship shot claimed in a recent interview that Sputnik V had been effective against COVID-19 “from August 2020 until somewhere around July 2022,” but that the experimental genetic drug—developed in cooperation with AstraZeneca—was no match for newer “variants”.
“Starting from mid-summer 2022, when Omicron 1, 2 and 3 variants appeared, Sputnik V’s efficacy dropped eight times. When Omicron 4 and 5 appeared, efficiency dropped by a factor of 20. And when the XBB.1.5 version of Omicron (Kraken) appeared—this was in January 2023—Sputnik V simply stopped protecting completely,” Gintsburg told Gazeta.ru.
Gintsburg boasted in April 2021 that Sputnik V could potentially provide “indefinite” protection against COVID-19. A month later, Gamaleya’s director adjusted his assessment, predicting the vaccine would be effective for 2 years.
In April 2022, Gintsburg instructed Russians to get revaccinated every six months.
With Sputnik V now officially obsolete, Gintsburg and his team are preparing to release an updated version of the genetic shot. Clinical trials are scheduled to end in December and the new vaccine could enter circulation as soon as March.
Under new rules adopted last year by the Russian Ministry of Health, modifications to Sputnik V can receive authorization after being tested on “50 healthy volunteers”. The approval process takes between 16-38 days.
The results of these expedited trials will not be made available to Russians. Earlier this month, the State Duma Committee on Health Protection rejected a bill that would have required drug developers to release the final results of their clinical trials.
Russia’s Ministry of Health declared last year that the results of Sputnik V’s Phase III trials were a confidential “trade secret”.
The Health Ministry announced in July that it wanted to amend the National Preventive Immunization Calendar to make COVID vaccination mandatory for “vulnerable categories of citizens” depending on the “epidemiological” situation in the country. The rule would also apply to state employees.
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