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Early Data on Russian Vaccine

Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 generated an immune response within a small group of individuals tested, Reuters reports.

In the Lancet, a team of researchers led by Alexander Gintsburg from the Gamaleya Institute administered variations of the vaccine formulation to 76 individuals as part of their phase I/II trial. They report that both of their adenovirus-based vectors carrying the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein gene induced a strong humoral and cellular immune response among participants.

Russia approved the vaccine, dubbed Sputnik-V, in August, an announcement that drew criticism for being hasty. Critics noted that the safety and efficacy of the vaccine had yet to be tested in a large phase III trial. "With this [paper] we answer all of the questions of the West that were diligently asked over the past three weeks, frankly with the clear goal of tarnishing the Russian vaccine," Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, tells Reuters.

But as the New York Times notes, there is as yet no evidence the vaccine protects against SARS-CoV-2. "The report is a case of 'so far, so good'," Brendan Wren from London's School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine adds at Reuters.

The Times adds that the Russian team has received approval to conduct a Phase III trial of 40,000 people.