(Reuters) - Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 according to interim trial results, the country’s sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday, as Moscow rushes to keep pace with Western drugmakers in the race for a shot.
The initial results are the second to be published from a late-stage human trial of a vaccine that could halt a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people and ravaged the global economy.
Independent experts said knowledge about the trial’s design and protocol was sparse, making it extremely difficult to interpret the figures released on Wednesday.
MARKET REACTION: European stocks and U.S. stock futures extended gains slightly after the announcement. World stocks rallied to record highs following Pfizer’s encouraging vaccine update on Monday.
ELEANOR RILEY, PROFESSOR OF IMMUNOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE, UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
“The Sputnik data are based on only 20 cases of COVID-19 in the trial participants, compared to more than 90 cases in the earlier trial.
It is particularly important that the pre-set criteria for unblinding the trial data are adhered to to avoid cherry picking the data. Anything less than this risks a public loss of trust in all vaccines, which would be a disaster.”
BRENDAN WREN, PROFESSOR OF MICROBIAL PATHOGENESIS, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE & TROPICAL MEDICINE
“The vaccine technology platform used by the Russian group is a surrogate virus (Adenovirus, similar to the Oxford group vaccine) to deliver the SARS-CoV2 antigen, in contrast to the Pfizer vaccine that uses mRNA. The advantage of this approach is that -80c freezing will not be required in the vaccine supply chain. Overall, this is more encouraging data confirming the early stage protection of a SARS-CoV2 vaccine using a different platform technology.”
STEPHEN EVANS, PROFESSOR OF PHARMACOEPIDEMIOLOGY, LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE & TROPICAL MEDICINE
“This is encouraging not just for this vaccine, but it is additional evidence that vaccines can be effective in Covid-19.
Overall efficacy is about the same for these two vaccines (Sputnik and Pfizer), and while it is possible that favourable results are seen early, it is encouraging to see higher levels of efficacy than we might have expected based on experience with flu vaccines.
STEPHEN GRIFFIN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
“Again, we can be cautiously optimistic that SARS-CoV2 vaccines targeting the spike protein are effective.
However, again it will be necessary to see the complete data set before making confident assessments of how well this, or other SARS-CoV2 vaccines work...In particular, we must understand whether these prevent infection itself or just severe symptoms, as well as if vaccinees might continue shedding infectious virus.”
CHARLES BANGHAM, CHAIR OF IMMUNOLOGY, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
“These preliminary results provide further reassurance that it should be possible to produce an effective vaccine against COVID-19.
The Sputnik V strategy has some theoretical advantages, because the use of the full-length S (spike) protein may elicit a broader immune response, but the adenoviruses used are also likely to produce more side-effects such as fever or headache - although these are expected to be mild.
RAVINDRA GUPTA, PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL MICROBIOLOBY, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
“The interim announcement of vaccine efficacy for the Sputnik vaccine is welcome. The number of infections across placebo and the vaccine was only 20, and the data are preliminary... However we have good reason to be optimistic as this vaccine does not need the -80c storage in contrast to the Pfizer RNA vaccine.”
PROFESSOR BODO PLACHTER, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGIE, MAINZ UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL
“What is missing for now is an analysis of statistical significance. Given the current infection dynamic it will likely take only a few weeks until we arrive at a fuller picture that can be statistically evaluated.”
This looks quite good at first sight but we certainly need longer-term observations to draw valid conclusions about efficacy and side effects. The same goes for Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s numbers.”
IAN JONES, PROFESSOR OF VIROLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF READING, UK
“The Sputnik data is yet more good news for Covid-19 vaccine development. Although based on fewer cases than the recent Pfizer data, the vaccine looks as efficient and, like the Pfizer data, confirms and extends the earlier phase 2 results.
We still need to know about the longevity of the response and the efficiency in different age groups, but the result bodes well for the other trials currently in progress and for having enough vaccine in geographically diverse regions to enable a comprehensive vaccination program on a global scale.”
JOSHUA MAHONY, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, IG
“The Russian vaccine results are impressive if reports that they are 92% effective are to be believed...However, the lack of market reaction does highlight an element of mistrust over these findings, with the level of adoption in Western nations unlikely to be high for a product out of Russia.
It is also becoming evident that vaccines will likely need to come from a more reliable and domestic source if they are to be provided swiftly, with the UK still expected to be holding out for the results of the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial in the hope they can lessen the logistical hurdles.”
NEIL WILSON, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST AT MARKETS.COM,
“Markets are ignoring any Russian vaccine updates since most people simply don’t trust Moscow on such issues. Worries about efficacy and safety have not been satisfied.
DMITRY DOLGIN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, RUSSIA, ING
“I think the news is supportive of the market sentiment, as it shows that the list of competing vaccines under development is wide, and the time frame of the process seems similar in various countries.
But there is still uncertainty as to if and when this vaccine would allow removing the epidemiological restrictions in the economy, and this uncertainty in Russia is similar to the international situation.
NIKOLAY MARKOV, SENIOR ECONOMIST, PICTET ASSET MANAGEMENT
“It can really be a game changer in the fight against the pandemic as the Sputnik V vaccine ranks in the top 5 of the world’s potentially most effective vaccines against COVID.
If the vaccine is as efficient as they claim, they may gradually get the pandemic under control, albeit this will take some time, but is very likely by mid-2021.
The main question in the fight against the pandemic is whether people will be willing to take the vaccine. A recent survey shows that at the world level, more than a third are not willing to.”
Compiled by Global Finance & Markets Breaking News team and Kate Kelland and Ludwig Burger
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