Russia will trial a one-dose version of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, officials said on Monday, as they aim to provide a stopgap solution for badly hit countries.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which financed the development of the two-dose Sputnik V jab, said it was also financing clinical trials of “Sputnik Light,” a less effective single-dose version.
RDIF head Kirill Dmitriyev told journalists the “one-component” version of Sputnik V could be an “effective temporary solution” for countries facing a high caseload of coronavirus infections.
Russia in August registered Sputnik V — named after the Soviet-era satellite — months ahead of Western competitors and before the start of large-scale clinical trials.
The country began vaccinations with Sputnik in early December even though it was still in its third phase of clinical trials.
The rushed procedures raised concerns that the vaccine was part of Moscow’s efforts to bolster its geopolitical influence.
The vaccine’s developers boasted an efficacy of more than 90% and announced that over 1 billion doses of the vaccine had been pre-ordered worldwide.
In a December interview with state television, Dmitriyev said that the “light” version of the vaccine would be around 85% effective.
Earlier on Monday, the RDIF confirmed that more than 1.5 million people around the world had been inoculated with Sputnik V, without providing a breakdown of where the jab had been distributed.
Moscow has sent batches of its vaccine to Belarus, Serbia and Argentina where the jab was registered under an emergency use authorization procedure.
The RDIF said in a statement on Monday that Palestinian authorities had also approved the vaccine for emergency use, with delivery planned for the first quarter of this year.
Russia to Suspend Flights With UK Amid Mutated Virus Fears
Russia will halt all flights with Britain from midnight Tuesday, joining the growing list of countries to suspend air travel with the country amid concerns of a more-infectious coronavirus strain found there.
Nearly 30 other countries have banned travel to and from Britain due to the mutation. Russia’s travel ban will last for one week, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Russian health officials and experts have downplayed concerns about the mutated strain found in Britain, saying it is no deadlier than the original version and that coronavirus vaccines will still be effective at preventing it.
Britain announced a strict lockdown in several parts of the country just ahead of the Christmas holiday after the mutation, which is up to 70% more infectious than previous variants, was found to be spreading quickly throughout London as well as southeast and eastern England.
The World Health Organization has said that the mutation has also been spotted in the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.