Russia’s Vaccine Missteps

Russia and China have been exporting their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to build goodwill. At the same time, however, they have been taking steps that undermine that goodwill. Russia has built up its military forces as if to attack Ukraine and is now building them down; additionally, information has come out about earlier attacks on Czech and Bulgarian arms depots. China has been imprisoning Uyghurs in concentration (“reeducation”) camps and has been militarily active in the South China Sea.

Both vaccines, like the AstraZeneca vaccine, use an adenovirus to carry in parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to provoke an immune response. The method has been used successfully for an Ebola vaccine.

Brazil and Slovakia have now rejected Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine because it is not as advertised. For a vaccine, the adenovirus must be made incapable of replicating or inducing its own immune reaction. This is accomplished by deleting two genes. Both countries’ regulatory agencies found the adenovirus capable of replicating, and Brazil found immunogenicity.

The original Sputnik V was properly developed. Its information has been published, and it has been used widely across Russia, although it did not have a Type 3 trial of the sort required by America’s Food and Drug Administration for approval. Another part of FDA approval is inspection of the factories and their procedures that will mass produce the vaccines.

Although the widespread distribution of Sputnik V is, in effect, a Type 3 trial, the problem with the vaccines delivered to Brazil and Slovakia seems to originate in production. Somehow the vaccine was contaminated with a wild adenovirus, which are common. This is a failure of quality control.

Meanwhile, Russian twitter is trash-talking other vaccines. Not a good look.

More here about the technical side, and a Twitter thread that says much the same thing.

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice

One comment

  1. The Blog Fodder · April 29

    Quality control in Russia is an oxymoron. And in Ukraine, according to my wife.


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