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Russia says tests show its COVID-19 vaccine is 92 percent effective

Russia says tests show its COVID-19 vaccine is 92 percent effective
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Russia announced Wednesday that interim trial results show that the country’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is 92 percent effective at protecting individuals from the virus. 

According to Reuters, experts said that while the Russian data was encouraging, it was only drawn from a small number of volunteers who had contracted COVID-19.

The trial included 20 participants carrying the virus, with some receiving the Sputnik V vaccine and others getting a placebo. The trial size is significantly smaller than the 94 coronavirus cases contracted by participants in the trials by drugmaker Pfizer and German manufacturing firm BioNTech for their respective vaccines.

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The Russia announcement comes just two days after Pfizer said that its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. The company added at the time that it hoped to have the amount of safety data required for a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization by the third week of November.

“I assume there was political pressure after the press release from Pfizer and BioNTech earlier in the week to now draw level with their own data,” Bodo Plachter, deputy director of the Institute of Virology at Germany’s Mainz University, told Reuters. “What is missing for now is an analysis of statistical significance.”

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has been supporting Sputnik V’s development, said the Russian trial would continue for six months.

Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that they intend to submit full phase 3 trial data for peer review, with the companies projecting they will produce up to 50 million doses globally by the end of this year and as many as 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19,” Ugur Sahin, the co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, said in a statement Monday. “This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort.”