Russian scientists say the country's Sputnik-V vaccine appears safe and effective against COVID-19, according to early results of an advanced study published in a British medical journal.
Researchers say that, based on their trial, which involved about 20,000 people in Russia last fall, the vaccine is about 91 percent effective in preventing people from developing COVID-19. The study was published online on February 2 in the journal, The Lancet.
Scientists not linked to the research acknowledged that the speed at which the Russia vaccine was made and rolled out was criticized for "unseemly haste, corner cutting and an absence of transparency."
"But the outcome reported here is clear," British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary. "Another vaccine can now join the fight to reduce the incidence of COVID-19."
The Sputnik-V vaccine was approved by the Russian government with much fanfare on August 11. At the time, the vaccine had only been tested in several dozens of people.
Some early results were published in September, but participants had only been followed for about 42 days and there was no comparison group.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which helped finance Sputnik V, said last month that more than 1 million Russians had been vaccinated with it. But some Russian media questioned the number, suggesting that the rollout had been much slower.
Outside Russia, Sputnik V has received authorization in more than a dozen countries, according to the fund.
The data release comes as Europe scrambles to secure enough shots for its 450 million citizens due to production cuts by AstraZeneca and Pfizer while the U.S. roll-out has been hampered by the need to store shots in ultracold freezers and uneven planning across states.
Hungarian authorities were the first in the European Union to approve Sputnik V last month, and Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook that the country received a first batch of 40,000 doses on February 2.
However, the National Public Health Center must still give its final approval before shots are distributed to the public.