Twigg, Buckley: Russia’s coronavirus vaccine: Assessing the risks and research behind Sputnik V

PONARS Eurasia
31 Aug 2020

(The Naked Pravda/Meduza) If you’ve read anything about Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, “Sputnik V,” you know that it’s rolling out to the public in October, just as Phase III trials begin — meaning that researchers still have no idea how effective the product actually is. So far, the scientists developing Sputnik V say they’ve combined Phase I and Phase II testing and confirmed its safety and immunogenicity, but they’ve yet to compare it to a placebo and the handful of patients already injected were all relatively young and healthy.

The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed Sputnik V, says it hopes to manufacture 3-5 million doses annually, once production is up and running. A handful of other Russian biotech companies will be manufacturing the vaccine, as well. Russia says it’s already received orders for a billion doses around the world. 

Suspiciously and unlike most foreign researchers working on a coronavirus vaccine, the Gamaleya Research Institute has yet to publish any trial results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Despite promises from the Russian team, they haven’t shared any details about their vaccine tests with the global expert community.

To learn more about Russia’s coronavirus vaccine and explore the risks and research behind this product, The Naked Pravda turns to two social scientists: Judyth Twigg, a political science professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, who studies healthcare in Russia and Eurasia, and Cynthia Buckley, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who works on global health and social demography in Eurasia.

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