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Russia’s coronavirus vaccine is ‘safe and triggers immune response’

Vladimir Putin has touted the effectiveness of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine to the world (Picture: Getty Images)

Russia’s controversial coronavirus vaccine may actually work after two early trials found the jab was safe and triggered an immune response in humans.

The vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, was announced by Vladimir Putin last month, provoking international concern it would be mass produced without undergoing proper testing.

However, results from two early-phase trials are encouraging, as scientists found the vaccine had no serious adverse effects on 76 volunteers over a 46-day period.

The findings, published in The Lancet medical journal, also showed there was an antibody response in all the participants within 21 days of being given the jab.

Russian scientists said the results of the trial paved the way for the vaccine to be granted a provisional licence.

However, Western scientists urged caution, suggesting the results were ‘encouraging but small’.

The trials took place in two hospitals in Russia and were open-label and non-randomised, meaning participants knew they were receiving the vaccine. Volunteers were healthy adults and came from military and civilian backgrounds.

They self-isolated as soon as they signed up for the trial and were given a mix of frozen and freeze-dried vaccines.

Early results showed Russia’s vaccine was safe and triggered an immune response (Picture: Getty Images)

It is envisaged the freeze-dried vaccine will rolled out in hard-to-reach places as it is more stable and can be stored at 2-8C, researchers said.

The most common adverse reactions were mild and included pain at the injection site, high temperature and headaches.

The researchers note a number of limitations to their study, including that it had a short follow-up, it was a small study, some parts of the phase 1 trials included only male volunteers, and there was no placebo or control vaccine.

They also said despite planning to recruit healthy volunteers aged 18-60, in general, their study included fairly young volunteers, on average in their 20s and 30s.

Russia was accused of trying to steal the UK’s vaccine secrets (Picture: Getty Images)

Dr Naor Bar-Zeev, of Baltimore’s International Vaccine Access Centre, said the trial results were ‘encouraging but small’.

‘The immunogenicity bodes well, although nothing can be inferred on immunogenicity in older age groups, and clinical efficacy for any Covid-19 vaccine has not yet been shown,’ he wrote in a comment piece in The Lancet.

‘Safety outcomes up to now are reassuring, but studies to date are too small to address less common or rare serious adverse events.’

The phase 3 trial of Russia’s coronavirus trial will include 40,000 volunteers (Picture: AP)

Researches said the results still made it possible for the vaccine to be provisionally approved by Russian authorities for wider testing.

The phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine plans to include 40,000 volunteers from different age and risk groups.

The Russian jab is one of a number of vaccines in development around the world.

It comes as the UK in July accused Russia of trying to hack the organisations behind Oxford’s potential vaccine.

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