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Russia's COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V: Why India may have to wait longer

The Russian COVID-19 vaccine has been named Sputnik-V, which is a reference to the surprise 1957 launch of the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union.

August 17, 2020 / 11:50 AM IST

Russia claims to have developed a COVID-19 vaccine called Sputnik V. This is despite an incomplete mass clinical trials.

The COVID-19 vaccine is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Russian Healthcare Ministry. The vaccine called Sputnik V is a reference to the surprise 1957 launch of the world's first satellite by the Soviet Union.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that clinical trials of the vaccine were over. Medical workers and teachers will be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

Will the Russian vaccine come to India, which has recorded over 23 lakh COVID-19 cases and 46,000 deaths? There are several ways in which the vaccine can be made available in India, according to a report by The Indian Express.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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In one way, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) can ask Russia to conduct late-phase human trials on an Indian population, which consists of both phase-2 and phase-3 trials, said the report.

Follow our LIVE blog for the latest updates of the novel coronavirus pandemic

Conducting late-phase human trials is a usual requirement for all vaccines developed outside of India. The step is important as a vaccine’s efficacy can differ in different population groups. For example: The route is being taken by vaccine candidate being developed by Oxford University, one of the six potential vaccines that have reached phase three clinical trials as per the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list. The Russian vaccine is not in this WHO's list.

Also, CDSCO can give emergency authorisation without late-phase trials, considering the rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the report suggested. For this, CDSCO can say it is satisfied with the safety and efficacy data produced during the human trials in Russia, and considering the extraordinary situation, it can grant approval for emergency use of the vaccine, as per the report.

Similar emergency approval was granted to use remdesivir drug as a therapeutic on COVID-19 patients, it said. However, this type of approval is not likely to be given for the use of the Russian vaccine, as unlike a drug that is administered only to patients, vaccines are inoculated to a large number of people. In the case of COVID-19, everyone needs to be vaccinated. Therefore, the risks involved are much higher, the report said.

Another issue in providing the Russian vaccine to Indians is the absence of any agreement for its production in the country right now, added the report.

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 12, 2020 01:33 pm
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