On Thursday, February 18, international trials of a single-component version of the first Russian vaccine against coronavirus began. Also, the developers are preparing to test a new, nasal form of "Sputnik V".
Four news at once about upcoming studies aimed at an early victory over the pandemic appeared today on the blog of Sergei Sobyanin. First, but not necessarily the main thing, the creators of Sputnik V have moved on to the third phase of testing Sputnik Light, both in Russia (namely, in Moscow) and in the United Arab Emirates. The mayor of Moscow calls the need to make two injections with an interval of three weeks "the main drawback" of the classic "Sputnik", and its light version will simplify both production and logistics.
True, the single-component form may have its drawbacks - one injection of the vaccine will not necessarily be as effective, even if the dose is increased. Will this be a problem? The chief infectious disease specialist at Medsi, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Irina Shestakova comments:
Irina Shestakova Chief infectious disease specialist at Medsi, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor “It is assumed that in any case, this vaccine must be effective for three to four months without fail. It may be that the protection against the virus after the administration of one dose will be less. When the vaccine is a two-part vaccine, the second dose is a kind of booster vaccine, that is, it enhances the immune response. Another thing is that, in the course of these studies, they will probably study its effectiveness in terms of how much a person will be protected from the development of moderate and severe forms."
Sobyanin's second announcement concerns another form of "Sputnik V" - nasal. The vaccine will be administered through the nose and will "build up immunity in the nasopharynx area." As the mayor writes, "the drug will not replace a full-fledged vaccination, but it can be useful as an additional form of protection." His clinical trials are also planned in Moscow.
Why do we need a nasal form of the vaccine, which will take months to complete all three phases of testing, if by that time Russia will already have both Sputnik V and, hopefully, Sputnik Light? This is how the immunologist Vladimir Bolibok explains it:
Vladimir Bolibok Immunologist “Sputnik vaccine in the form of drops or as a spray into the nose would be very useful for the immunization of children. It does not require the creation of some very high protective immunity of a general nature. The most important thing is that they develop such a level of immunity so that they do not become virus carriers and do not transmit the virus further - this is the task here. Such a vaccine may also be in demand for the purpose of booster immunization. That is, people who received an injection, for example, with Sputnik Light, will not have very high immunity, but it is quite possible to use a nasal vaccine for reimmunization."
Finally, two more news from the Moscow mayor's office concern the original Sputnik V. The vaccine will soon begin to be tested on minors - at the Bashlyaeva Children's Hospital, three phases of research will be conducted with the participation of adolescents aged 14 to 18 years. If successful, the minimum age for Russians to be vaccinated will be lowered.
In addition, the developers of "Sputnik V" intend to substantively investigate the duration of the protective effect of the drug. Two thousand people who received the first component of the vaccine three to six months ago will take an antibody test every month. A related study began earlier this week.