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Russian Scientists Say Polio Vaccine Protects Against Coronavirus

A woman receives Russia's first approved coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, at a mobile Covid-19 vaccination site in Moscow. Gavriil Grigorov / TASS

The makers of Russia’s third coronavirus vaccine CoviVak said their tests of a live polio vaccine for preventing Covid-19 have proven effective.

Aydar Ishmukhametov, the director of the state-run Chumakov Research Center which developed CoviVak, told state television that the results “prove” the polio vaccine’s short-term effectiveness. 

“We gave some 60 volunteers a live polio vaccine and received a sharp reduction in the [Covid-19] incidence for this group,” Ishmukhametov told the Rossia broadcaster.

“We’ve proven this issue [but] we’ve set it aside as a short-term option,” he said in a segment on Russia’s three domestically manufactured jabs that aired Wednesday evening.

U.S. scientists posited last year that live oral polio vaccines temporarily stave off Covid-19 by triggering a general immune response. Other virology experts countered that the existing research is flimsy at best.

The Chumakov Research Center is named after Russian virologist Mikhail Chumakov, who in the late 1950s made the Soviet Union the first country to develop, produce, license and widely use the oral poliovirus vaccine.

Russia rolled out the Chumakov-developed CoviVak, the country’s third registered coronavirus vaccine, earlier this spring. CoviVak is a two-dose whole-virion vaccine that uses complete, but inactive, particles of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. 

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