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Russia's Gamaleya Research, UK-Swedish Astrazeneca Sign Memorandum of Cooperation in COVID-19 Fight

© REUTERS / FRANCIS MASCARENHASVials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine
Vials of AstraZeneca's COVISHIELD, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine - Sputnik International
Gamaleya research centre said last week that joint trials of its Sputnik V vaccine and Astrazeneca's would start very soon.

Russia's Gamaleya research centre, UK-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and R-Pharm pharmaceutical company on Monday signed a memorandum of cooperation on the fight against the coronavirus.

Joint trials of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus and UK-Swedish AstraZeneca's vaccine are starting very soon, Alexander Gintsburg, the head of Gamaleya research center that developed Sputnik V, said Monday.

"The trials are starting very soon, practically right now. They will not require any big investment and long time simply because the two technologies that underpin AstraZeneca's vaccine and Sputnik V are very similar," Gintsburg said at a video conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, AstraZeneca and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

A combination of the Sputnik V and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines may be registered in Russia, Alexander Gintsburg said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the signing ceremony online and congratulated all of the parties.

Vladimir Putin said that the intention of the Gamaleya Centre, AstraZeneca and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to cooperate can serve as a convincing example of joining efforts to ensure everyone's safety.

"I am absolutely convinced that such an attitude towards partnership today can serve as a good, convincing example of combining scientific forces, technologies, investments for a common goal - to protect the life, health and safety of millions of people on the planet as a whole," Putin said at the signing of the memorandum, which took place via videoconference.

He also congratulated the parties on the signing of the document.

Vaccines AZD1222 (developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with the University of Oxford) and Sputnik V are based on adenoviral vectors, into which the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is embedded. At the same time, adenoviruses themselves are deprived of the ability to replicate - they are a system for delivering genetic material (antigens) to the cells of the human body.

In August, Sputnik V became the first COVID-19 vaccine registered in Russia and the world. The vaccine is currently going through phase 3 trials in Russia, as well as in Belarus, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The relevant agreements have also been reached with India, Brazil and Hungary. Sputnik V is over 95 percent effective based on preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose (corresponds with 21 days after the second dose). There were no unexpected adverse events during the trials.

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