Three Siberian health-care workers who received Russia’s so-called Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine have tested positive for the deadly bug, according to reports.
Officials in the Altai region reported that the three were among 42 medical workers who received the two-dose vaccine, which Russian health officials say is 92 percent effective, the Moscow Times reported.
“The sick doctors’ immunity likely didn’t have time to form by the time they encountered the COVID-19 pathogen,” according to the region’s administration. “Only that could have caused the doctors’ infection.”
The vaccine’s developer has suggested that infected recipients of the inoculation have received a placebo during final clinical trials, the news outlet reported.
And the developer also said that immunity only comes six weeks after the first of two injections, East2West News reported, citing health officials.
Dr. Irina Pereladova, the region’s chief infection physician, told a local news outlet that the three workers were likely infected in the 24 hours between having negative tests and the first shot, according to East2West.
But the health ministry’s regional branch later admitted they may have contracted the illness despite having received one or even two jabs.
“A person is considered vaccinated and, accordingly, protected from coronavirus infection only three weeks after the second vaccination,” the ministry said.
Authorities are administering the vaccine to a select group of health-care workers and teachers across the country, in parallel with Moscow, where it is undergoing trials with 40,000 volunteers, according to the Moscow Times.
The Altai region — which has the 18th-highest number of COVID-19 infections among Russia’s 85 regions — is expected to receive a second batch of 2,000 doses of the vaccine early next year, TASS reported.
News about the medical workers’ infections comes as Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said the Sputnik V vaccine is 92 percent effective, according to interim trial results, Reuters reported.
The results are based on data from the first 16,000 trial participants to receive both shots of the two-dose vaccine, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has been marketing it globally, the outlet reported.
“We are showing, based on the data, that we have a very effective vaccine,” RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev said, adding that it was the kind of news Sputnik V’s developers would talk about with their grandchildren one day.
Russia’s announcement quickly followed results posted Monday by Pfizer and BioNTech, which said their shot was also more than 90 percent effective.
Vials containing Russia’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine.Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters
Scientists have voiced concerns about the speed at which Moscow has worked, giving the green light for the vaccine and launching a mass inoculation program before full trials to test its safety and efficacy had been completed.
Russia registered its jab – an homage to the Soviet Union’s first orbital satellite in 1957 — for public use in August, the first country to do so, though the approval came before the start of the large-scale trial in September.