AstraZeneca to start COVID-19 trial combined with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine

AstraZeneca to start COVID-19 trial combined with Russia's Sputnik V vaccine
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AstraZeneca is expected to begin a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine combined with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The U.K.-based drugmaker said in a statement on Friday that volunteers aged 18 years and older will be enrolled to assess AZD1222 with Sputnik V.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the vaccine’s main backer, said in a separate statement that it offered AstraZeneca the chance to use one of Sputnik V’s components in November after preliminary results showed Russia’s vaccine to be 90 percent effective.

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The trial is expected to begin before the end of the year, RDIF said.

RDIF CEO Krill Dmitriev said in a statement that the collaboration will “play a decisive role in achieving a final victory over the pandemic globally.”

“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic,” Dmitriev said.

Russia registered the Sputnik V vaccine in August, making it the first country to register a vaccine. The nation began inoculating people this week, according to Bloomberg News.

However, the vaccine has faced scrutiny since it was approved, as it did not go through the same rigorous testing as its competitors.

Meanwhile, data on AZD1222 published on Tuesday confirmed that it is overall 70 percent effective. However, some questions remain on its efficacy, including in those over the age of 55.