Vaccine Diplomacy: The Sputnik V Vaccine


After much controversy, it is now clear that the Sputnik V vaccine is one of the most effective in the world. It appears that the Sputnik vaccine will have a real effect on the pandemic: its efficacy rate appears to be around 92%. Hundreds of thousands of doses are being distributed weekly around the world. Nevertheless, this has not been an easy process. Getting to a point of credibility took time. 

Scientifically speaking, the development and approval of a vaccine take time. It is necessary to undergo a long development cycle, which usually takes around 10 to 15 years. Extraordinarily, COVID-19’s case was different. Clearly, the cycle was accelerated. There are several trials needed before approval. Once the trials are completed, the vaccine gains international recognition and it is approved, or not. 

As a matter of fact, the Sputnik V vaccine was the first to be released. Ideally, the release would happen when the final results were in. Still, Sputnik claimed to be effective before having the completed investigation. Therefore, people questioned the legitimacy of the claims. 

However, like every other COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V underwent the same process. The difference was that every other competitor, such as AstraZeneca or Pfizer, were more skeptical about showing results beforehand. This made their reputation, a priori, more believable than the Russian side. 

Vladimir Putin preemptively shared the success of the vaccine in early December 2020. Nevertheless, the vaccine was still missing the results from Phase III, which would give it international clinical approval. Therefore, there was controversy over whether to continue giving the vaccine or not until the data was finalized. It is important to note that even though the dataset was not complete, Russia decided to continue administering the vaccine, even if the citizens were skeptical towards it. 

The approval rate was approximately 38%. On the other hand, competitors such as Biontech (Pfizer) and Astrazeneca were achieving international recognition and credibility, which allowed them to start sending doses and the world remained on their side. 

The controversy came to an end on the 2nd of February 2021, when the results for the trials of Phase III were shared. One major scientific magazine, “The Lancet”, published an overview of the effectiveness of the Sputnik V vaccine, placing it around 91.6 to 92% efficacy. This was a major step towards Russia’s political and clinical victory. After this article was published, the confidence and influence of Russia’s scientists recovered and the world started to authorize shipments of the vaccine.

Different major powers around the globe such as the whole EU, Brazil, India, etc, are now applying the necessary doses to recover. This was not only a big step for Russia but for the whole world, which is, hopefully, just steps away from acquiring herd immunity, the objective of every nation. 

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