Russia says its coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective

Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is more than 95 percent effective and will be free for all Russian citizens, the government announced Tuesday.

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Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute, which serves under the Russian health ministry, said in a release that international markets will be able to purchase the serum for $10 per dose, with patients requiring two.

This would mean Sputnik V is “cheaper than mRNA vaccines with similar efficacy levels,” the institute said, referring to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna candidates.

If those claims are true, it would put Russia’s vaccine candidate in a unique position compared to other promising vaccines. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna candidates have efficacy of over 90 percent, too, but they use a brand-new mRNA formula that will need to be kept in subzero conditions.

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was found to have similar effectiveness, but it can be stored in standard fridges, which reduces costs. The Sputnik V uses the same viral vector technique, allowing it to be stored in similar conditions, the Russian institute said.

Russia’s announcement in August that it had found a vaccine candidate both shocked and excited the world, but was promptly met with criticism and concerns over transparency.

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Notwithstanding Tuesday’s findings, independent researchers have expressed trepidation.

Ian Jones, of the University of Reading, said that the “the Sputnik dose […] is twice that of the Oxford full dose yet appears not to have had any issues of inhibition. What exactly the ideal dose is for these adenovirus vectored vaccines is therefore a little uncertain.”

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