The Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine has been found to be 91.6-per-cent effective against COVID-19, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The peer-reviewed result comes from a phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the Russian capital Moscow by the Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the body that developed the vaccine.
For the study, 19,866 volunteers were given either two doses of the Sputnik V vaccine or a placebo.
A total of 16 people in the vaccine group went on to develop COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
In the placebo group, this figure stands at 62.
Of those tested, more than 2000 were over the age of 60, the researchers said, adding that the vaccine had been similarly effective in older people.
The results, which put the vaccine at close to the same efficacy as the Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer vaccines, were published days after Russia offered the European Union doses of Sputnik V amid shortages of other vaccines in the bloc.
According to the manufacturer, Sputnik V has been approved in 15 countries around the world, including in Hungary, which became the first EU member to approve it last week – even though the European Commission in Brussels has not given its OK.
The vaccine’s active ingredient was the first in the world to be released for widespread use in mid-August although the fact that key testing had not been completed at the time triggered international criticism.
Writing in The Lancet, researchers said there had only been a few cases of serious side effects with Sputnik V but the researchers did not attribute them to the vaccine.
Most volunteers reported “mild” side effects, such as flu-like symptoms and arm pain, they said.
There were also four deaths during the study but they were not related to the vaccine, according to the scientists.
One volunteer had suffered a stroke.
The researchers spoke of interim results, adding that the trial would continue to cover a total of 40,000 volunteers.
The Russian State Direct Investment Fund, which is co-financing the vaccine and marketing it abroad, is expecting approvals of the vaccine in nine further countries by the end of next week.
Sputnik V is already being produced in India and South Korea.
It is also expected to be produced in China this month.
Brazil will follow, the fund said, according to the Interfax agency.