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Russia, AstraZeneca to Test Combined Coronavirus Vaccination

Russia’s state-run Gamaleya research center said the combined regimen with AstraZeneca “may prove important for revaccinations.” Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

The developer of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine will partner with AstraZeneca to test in a clinical trial whether combining their jabs would boost immunity to Covid-19, the British drugmaker announced Friday.

Russia’s state-run Gamaleya research center two weeks ago suggested trying the combined regimen with AstraZeneca, saying on Twitter it “may prove important for revaccinations.”

AstraZeneca's statement said that it “will soon begin exploring with Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia to understand whether two adenovirus-based vaccines can be successfully combined.

Assessing different types of COVID-19 vaccines in combination could help unlock synergies in protection and improve vaccine accessibility and could provide an additional approach to help overcome this deadly virus,” it said.

The clinical trial program will begin enrolling adults aged 18 and older, AstraZeneca said without providing a timeframe.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the developers of the AZD1222 vaccine, on Tuesday became the first Covid-19 vaccine makers to publish final-stage clinical trial data in a scientific journal. Their study in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet said that the vaccine works in an average of 70% of cases. AZD1222 is seen as a cheaper and more mobile alternative to its rivals due to its ability to be transported at normal fridge temperatures.

Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccine is still in post-registration clinical trials involving 40,000 volunteers even as Russia prepares it for a mass immunization drive for high-risk groups late this week with plans to produce 2 million doses by year’s end. The institute vowed to publish interim results this month amid compounding worries over safety and poor standards under the Kremlin’s close watch. 

Expert analysis by a Russian state-run public health institute reportedly showed Sputnik V to be 96.2% effective after its second jab.

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