Doctor of Medical Sciences Dmitry Yedelev talks about the fundamental difference between Sputnik V and the American vaccines
WHO is ready to help accelerate the certification process for the Sputnik V vaccine. However, a number of countries still exclude the possibility of purchasing Russian vaccines, preferring the American ones. Is there a medical justification for this decision? And why do experts call Pfizer an experimental drug? We spoke to the Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Dmitry Edelev.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a vaccine race. A number of countries, including those from the post-Soviet space, prefer American and German vaccines to Sputnik V. Why? Are they more reliable?
- There is such a childish joke "I will frostbite my ears just to spite my grandmother." Today the following situation occurs: the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" is the number one vaccine, which is easier to tolerate and which has a higher efficiency, it is easier to work with, but everyone rushed after the Pfizer vaccine.
Let me remind you that Pfizer is the first vaccine which has been created using messenger RNA technology. Previously this technology was used only to make vaccines for animals, in other words, it is a dog-cat vaccine. This vaccine has never been tested in humans. We can say that this is an experimental vaccine, the creators decided to practice on humans after cats and dogs.
- Can we say that the technology is experimental? Can there be unpredictable side effects?
“This technology is absolutely experimental for humans, unlike the Sputnik V vaccine, the technology of which has been tested for 17 years on antitumor vaccines used across the world.
A total of about one and a half million vaccine injections have been made in Russia to date. This was the first stage, now the second stage of mass vaccination has begun. Today in Russia there is not a single person with severe complications after the injection, there is not a single casualty, unlike Pfizer, where there are a lot of complications. We do not know how the American vaccine will behave in the future, since it is a technology that has not been studied at all on humans.
- According to the head of the Gamaleya Center Alexander Gintsburg, the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" will protect against COVID-19 for two years, while the vaccine from the American company Pfizer for about four to five months. How does the Russian drug protect you for longer?
“Since we have been working with Ad26 adenoviruses for 17 years, we know perfectly well how they behave and we know what to expect. Moreover, there are more than three hundred vaccines in the world today on Ad26, including the Ebola virus vaccine. Therefore, we are not merely assuming, but can confidently say that it will work for about 2 years. This cannot be said for Pfizer and BioNTech that are new and experimental for humans. Moreover, the duration of their effectiveness is unknown, we only have projections from experiments on animals and the first experiments on Europeans, including Lithuanians - there is nothing concrete yet. I repeat, a messenger RNA vaccine is being in against humans for the first time in the world.
- Pfizer vaccine must be stored at about -70 ° C to maintain optimal potency. Sputnik V can be stored at temperatures between −2 and −8 ° C. What is the reason for the different temperature regime?
“Pfizer has not been able to create the same effective vaccine for humans as it does for animals that is stored at + 4 ° C. A vaccine for humans must be stored at extremely low temperatures - according to the passport, not lower than -80 ° C. It turns out that the Pfizer vaccine is some kind of raw product that they put on the market. Even the European country Lithuania could not comply with the temperature regime.
How, for example, can this vaccine be transported to the south of Italy, to the warm Spain or Portugal? Not to mention the African continent, where it is a huge problem to comply with the storage and transportation conditions for this vaccine. We know that a whole plane is specially made to bring Pfizer vaccine to Ukraine, because there are no planes capable of transporting this vaccine. That is, the plane must be especially re- equipped, namely, super refrigerators must be installed to transport the American vaccine.
- But if Sputnik V is a high-quality drug for coronavirus and its transportation is easier, why do a number of countries insist on purchasing American vaccines? How can this be explained?
This is, first of all, America's policy and pressure. The US is forcing them to buy their vaccine, which, by the way, is much more expensive than the Russian one. It's just profiteering.
Interviewed by Yulia Shanina
Main photo: BBC.com