Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus is more than 90 percent effective, a health ministry official said on Monday.
The announcement came after US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech announced that their own experimental vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.
“We are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the Sputnik V vaccine among citizens who have received it as part of the mass vaccination programme,” Oksana Drapkina, director of a research institute under the Russian health ministry, said in a statement.
“Based on our observations, it is also more than 90 percent. The appearance of another effective vaccine – this is good news for everyone,” Drapkina said.
The COVID-19 virus has infected over 50 million people and claimed the lives of more than 1.2 million. And tens of thousands more deaths are feared in the coming months, with the onset of cold weather and the holidays.
Pfizer and BioNTech, are now is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, once it has the necessary safety information in hand.
CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, had said earlier in the day: “Pfizer and our collaborator, BioNTech, announced positive efficacy results from our Phase 3, late-stage study of our potential COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis.”
“The results demonstrate that our mRNA-based vaccine can help prevent COVID-19 in the majority of people who receive it. This means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global pandemic.”
However, Bourla said that the company couldn’t apply for FDA Emergency Use Authorization based on these efficacy results alone. They needed more data.
“We estimate that a median of two months of safety data following the second and final dose of the vaccine candidate – required by FDA’s guidance for potential Emergency Use Authorization – will be available by the third week of November,” Bourla added.
Pfizer’s announcement brought a big burst of optimism to a world desperate for the means to finally bring the catastrophic pandemic under control.
The strong results were a surprise. Scientists have warned for months that any COVID-19 shot may be only as good as flu vaccines, which are about 50 percent effective and require yearly immunizations. Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60 percent effective.
Whatever the ultimate level of protection, no one knows if people will need regular vaccinations.
Also, volunteers in the study received a coronavirus test only if they developed symptoms, leaving unanswered whether vaccinated people could get infected but show no symptoms and unknowingly spread the virus.
Pfizer has estimated it could have 50 million doses available globally by the end of 2020, enough for 25 million people.