2020-11-28| Asia-PacificCOVID-19

Russian Vaccine Makers Nudge AstraZeneca to Combine COVID-19 Vaccine, AZD1222 with Sputnik V

by Sangeeta Chakraborty
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Russia has claimed that its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V is 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19, based on an interim analysis of trial results. Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine based on a well-studied human adenoviral vector-based platform. The ongoing Sputnik V post-registration clinical trial in Russia involves 40,000 volunteers.

On November 26th, developers of Sputnik V urged AstraZeneca to combine its vaccine, AZD1222 (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19), with the Russian one to improve efficacy. Earlier this week, AstraZeneca and its partner, Oxford University, announced that their vaccine had an efficacy of 90%, but it soon emerged that the promising results are due to erroneous dosing. The vaccine had only reached 62% efficacy when the correct two full doses were administered but rose to a staggering 90% when volunteers were accidentally given a half dose followed by a full one. The company averaged that and said its vaccine appeared to have a 70% efficacy.

Oxford University stated that some of the vials did not have the correct vaccine concentration, so some participants got a half dose. Since then, scientists have raised concerns over the AZ vaccine as it became apparent that a manufacturing error had led to such a high efficacy.

As per reports from Bloomberg News, Pascal Soriat, CEO of AstraZeneca, was quoted as saying that the company is likely to launch a fresh global study to assess the lower dosage of the vaccine that yielded better results than the full dosage. Soriot said he did not expect the additional trial to delay British and European regulatory approvals.


Proposal for Combining the Two Vaccines

With over 2 million infections, Russia has the fourth most COVID-19 cases globally, behind the US, India, and Brazil.

“If they go for a new clinical trial, we suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the #SputnikV human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy,” Sputnik makers tweeted yesterday. “Combining vaccines may prove important for revaccinations.”

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is in a race against both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA based vaccines, whose shots have reported efficacy of around 95%. However, the AstraZeneca shot could well be one of the best options for many developing countries because of its lower price, easier distribution owing to its stability at fridge temperatures, and faster scale-up than its rivals.

When asked about these doubts in efficacy, the British government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said the main point about the AstraZeneca vaccine was that it worked.

“The headline result is the vaccine works, and that’s very exciting,” Vallance said during a news briefing with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

By Sangeeta Chakraborty, Ph.D.

Editor: Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.

Related Article: Cheaper and Fridge-Stable AstraZeneca Vaccine is 90% Effective in Preventing COVID-19



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