Gamaleya Center Announces Progress in Modifying Its Vaccine

Russia is ready to fight new COVID-19 variants

Researchers from the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology have stated that they can adapt their vaccine to any new COVID-19 strains in just two days.

According to Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute, there are two different technologies developed by the researchers.

«We’ve been developing two technologies simultaneously. One of them is already ready. It’s based on adenovirus vector technology, which allows us to make spike protein sequences in one day. The next day this sequence is added to a vector, which has already been used. As a result, we are newly ready to use the genetically engineered vaccine,» the scientist told the RIA Novosti news agency.

The main point here though is a question of whether or not additional testing is needed. Currently, this question is still under discussion, Gintsburg said. 

There were several examples in the international practice when new medication was approved after tests with less than 100 participants.

«If the new medication provides adequate protection against COVID-19 variants, mass production can be started. I hope that our lawmakers will do that and enact relevant legislature,» the Gamaleya Center executive noted.

In March 2020 the Russian Ministry of Health registered the first-ever vaccine against COVID-19, which was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute. This was Sputnik V. Because the researchers have used such a reliable foundation as adenovirus vectors, the vaccine is safe, effective and has no long-term side effects, even though the post-registration tests are still underway.

In mid-December, U.K. health officials reported a new variant called SARS-CoV-2 — VUI-202012/01. As it was reported, the new variant is spreading 70% faster (or 56% by other sources) than the initial strain. South Africa also reported a new variant they named 501.V2. In turn, the World Health Organization has confirmed that these variants are highly contagious. The variant SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in Brazil, India, and some other countries including Kazakhstan.

In Kazakhstan, the vaccination campaign with Sputnik V has been implemented since February. The vaccine was registered by the country on February 16. The first batch of the vaccine was bought in Russia; now it’s been producing by Karaganda Pharmaceutical Complex. Moreover, Kazakhstan wants to use its own vaccine QazCovid-In; the third phase of its testing should be completed in June.

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