Putin tests experimental nasal vaccine against COVID-19
Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he had taken an experimental nasal vaccine against the Corona virus, three days after receiving a booster injection, as Russia faces the worst wave of infections and deaths since the epidemic began.
Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V, the COVID-19 vaccine developed domestically in Russia, in the spring. On Sunday, he said he received a booster dose of Sputnik Lite, a single-dose version of a jab, and said he wanted to participate in testing the nasal version of Sputnik V.
Denis Logunov, deputy director of Russia’s state-funded Gamaleya Center that developed Sputnik V, told Putin on Sunday that the nasal vaccine has not yet undergone clinical studies and is currently being tested “mostly off-label” – on center staff.
According to established scientific protocols, the vaccine will need several trial stages, including those involving thousands of people, to prove that it is safe and effective for use.
Last month, the Russian Ministry of Health gave the regulatory green light to conduct early trials of the nasal form of Sputnik V among 500 volunteers, but it was not immediately clear if it had actually begun.
“Exactly six months after vaccination, my protective (antibody) titer decreased, and specialists recommended conducting a revaccination, which I did,” Putin said at a government meeting on Wednesday.
He said he did not experience any unpleasant effects after taking the nasal vaccine.
In recent weeks, Russia has swept the highest prevalence of COVID-19 ever, with officials regularly recording record high numbers of new infections and deaths.
The increase came amid a drop in vaccination rates and a lax public attitude toward taking precautions. Less than 40% of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a home-grown COVID-19 vaccine months earlier than most of the world.
The Russians are currently offered four domestically developed vaccines, with Sputnik V and Sputnik Lite dominating the market. Data on the effectiveness of two others, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, have not yet been released; Just like Sputnik V, these two shots were given regulatory approval before completing the late stages of the trials needed to prove their effectiveness in preventing disease.
The Russian Ministry of Health is expected to approve a version of Sputnik V for teenagers aged 12 to 17, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told Putin during a government meeting.
According to the Register of Clinical Trials in Russia, the vaccine, which is essentially a smaller dose of Sputnik V, has been tested on more than 3,600 volunteers. No data on its effectiveness has been released yet.
Russia’s coronavirus task force reported 33,558 new infections on Wednesday and 1,240 deaths. Golikova described the daily death figures as “dramatic”, noting at the same time that the infection in the country had taken a downward trend.
In total, the task force has reported more than 9.4 million confirmed infections and more than 267,000 deaths from COVID-19, the highest death toll in Europe. Some experts believe the true number is even higher.
Reports from Russia’s statistics service, Rosstat, which retroactively counts coronavirus-related deaths, reveal a much higher mortality rate. They say 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September this year.
Russian officials said the task force includes only deaths for which COVID-19 was the main cause, and uses data from medical facilities. Rosstat uses broader criteria for calculating virus-related deaths and takes its numbers from civil registry offices where death registration is completed.
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