Disinfo: Trying to catch up with Russia, the West lost another round in fight against pandemic

Summary

When Russian specialists presented the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, Western politicians attacked them with criticism. They accused Russia of being too hasty, pushing their own pharmaceutical companies along the way. This led to an unexpected result. Contrary to criticism and ostentatious scepticism, the vaccine has shown good results. This cannot be said about the developments of Western scientists. The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, from which the US has already pre-ordered the vaccine, was forced to stop testing its drug. One of the test participants developed a “potentially unexplained” illness, the company said.

Disproof

The recently developed pro-Kremlin narrative about Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V. The article referred to "The Lancet" magazine, where the results of tests of the Russian vaccine were published. Russian authors of the article in "The Lancet" wrote about phase 1/2 non-randomised studies at hospitals in Russia, and claimed that "the heterologous vaccine based on rAd26-S and rAd5-S is safe, well tolerated, and does not cause serious adverse events in healthy adult volunteers. The vaccine is highly immunogenic and induces strong humoral and cellular immune responses in 100% of healthy adult volunteers." However, at the same time, the other article in "The Lancet" about the Russian vaccine said that even after publication of the results of phase 1/2, it is not enough for approving the vaccine on a large scale.

"For regulators such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency, however, data on immune response alone would not generally be an adequate basis for approving a vaccine. Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London (London, UK), explains that 'immune response might not be directly proportional to the degree of protection—you can only find this out in large-scale trials'," writes "The Lancet".

Regarding AstraZeneca, the company said it voluntarily paused trials to allow an independent committee to review safety data and it was working to expedite the review to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline. "This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials," the company said in an emailed statement to Reuters. At the moment, researchers are testing 37 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 91 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals.