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Russia willing to cooperate with Egypt to produce coronavirus vaccine, ambassador tells MENA

Russia confirmed that the volunteers who were part of clinical trials of the new vaccine have not shown any side effects or caught coronavirus since they were vaccinated.

Amr Mohamed Kandil, Wednesday 19 Aug 2020
Vaccine
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Russian Sputnik V, the first registered coronavirus vaccine, may find its way to Egypt soon, newly-appointed Russian Ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko told Egyptian state-owned news agency MENA.

Moscow aims to establish partnership with Egypt to produce the newly developed vaccine, Borisenko stated.

Russia confirmed on the official website of Sputnik V that the volunteers who were part of clinical trials of the new vaccine have not shown any side effects or caught coronavirus since they were vaccinated. It said the third stage of clinical trials is set to be carried out soon on over 2,000 people in Russia and other states. Phase three is concerned with testing the efficacy and safety of the vaccine before it is licensed.

Experts, however, have been concerned that more people had to be involved in the clinical trials. Talking to CNN, Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, said widespread testing is required so that probable rare side effects can show up.

Borisenko said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is willing to discuss transferring to Egypt the technology of the new vaccine, adding that the Russian Embassy in Cairo has briefed both foreign and health ministries of the possibility of conducting bilateral talks on the issue and has provided them with the required information.

Borisenko said the first and second phases of the clinical trials of the vaccine involved 38 people, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters. He added that more than 2,000 people will be part of the third phase (post-registration) trial, including volunteers from Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Philippines.

However, Russian federal government-owned TASS quoted Alexander Gintsburg, director of Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which developed Sputnik V, as saying that the third trial will include tens of thousands of people, between 20,000 and 30,000 in the Moscow Region.

Borisenko added that the first batch of the vaccine may be produced during the coming two weeks for hospital staff. The second stage will be for teachers and older people, he said. The vaccine may also be available for children after three to five months of trials, in case it is proven safe.

The ambassador warned against the misinformation campaign launched against the Russian vaccine in the media worldwide. He said such “politicised stance” against the vaccine endangers people’s lives, affirming that the world needs to collaborate to face the novel coronavirus with the least cost possible.

Borisenko said Russia has developed the vaccine at a fast pace to protect people’s lives from new probable waves of coronavirus. He added that Russia is even willing to share its researches and experience with other states for the sake of mutual benefits.

Named after the 1957 Soviet Union satellite, Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, is one of 165 vaccines being developed worldwide to protect people against coronavirus, which has so far killed around 785,000 people and infected more than 22 million worldwide.

The vaccine has shown “high efficacy,” reported the official website, adding that this efficacy has been confirmed by high precision tests for antibodies in the blood serum of volunteers in the first two stages. The website also noted that the immune cells of the volunteers showed an ability to activate in response to the spike of the coronavirus; this state indicates that antibody and cellular immune vaccine responses are formed.

Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed in July said Egypt has secured 30 million doses of a promising English vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company specialised in pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical fields. The Oxford vaccine is still subject to trials, but it has reached advanced stages in many countries and has reached the last phase of trials in Brazil.

Late in June, Egyptian drugmaker Eva Pharma’s CEO Riad Armanious said his company has dispatched the antiviral Remdesivir, developed originally by California-based Gilead Sciences to combat ebola, to Egyptian hospitals, after it has proven effective as a supportive medicine to treat coronavirus patients in some countries.

Remdesivir is mainly used to treat serious coronavirus cases.

Data from a US clinical trial in late April indicated that patients receiving remdesivir had a 31 percent faster recovery time than the placebo group.

Egypt has officially reported 96,753 coronavirus cases and 5,184 deaths since the crisis began, while 61,562 patients have been discharged from hospitals after recovery, according to Health Ministry figures. 

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