Russia said Wednesday its coronavirus vaccine is 92% effective at preventing people from getting Covid-19, based on interim trial results.
The announcement by Russia's sovereign wealth fund RDIF came two days after U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective in phase three trials.
RDIF said the early results from its late-stage phase three clinical trial of the vaccine, called "Sputnik V," showed that its efficacy was "based on the 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo."
"Currently 40,000 volunteers are taking part in double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III of Sputnik V clinical trials, out of which over 20,000 have been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine and more than 16,000 with both the first and second doses of the vaccine," a statement published on the dedicated Sputnik V website said Wednesday.
In August, Russia became the first country to register and approve a coronavirus vaccine. The announcement prompted concerns from some members of the international scientific community about the speed of the approval — the vaccine had not yet started phase three trials at that point — and lack of available data supporting Russian claims for the vaccine's efficacy and safety.
Russia published some data from early stage clinical trials in September and has repeatedly insisted that its vaccine is safe and effective. On Wednesday, RDIF said that "were no unexpected adverse events during the trials. Monitoring of the participants is ongoing."
Observation of study participants will continue for six months before a full report of the phase three clinical trials is presented, RDIF said, but it noted that the interim research data will be published by the Gamaleya Center team, which developed the vaccine, "in one of the leading international peer-reviewed medical journals" without indicating when this might be.
The Pfizer/BioNTech analysis evaluated 94 confirmed Covid-19 infections among its trial's 43,538 participants. The partners said the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received a placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate of above 90% at seven days after the second dose.
The latest announcement from Russia comes a day after Russia's President Vladimir Putin announced that the country was developing a third vaccine. He also said Moscow was ready to cooperate with all other countries on vaccines but warned against the "politicization" of the process.
Russia has itself been accused of engaging in a vaccine race as drugmakers around the world try to develop an effective protection against the virus that has caused over 1.2 million deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Russia has the fifth highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections, with around 1.8 million cases reported to date.