BioCentury is providing this content for free given the urgent need for information about the coronavirus crisis. Further analysis can be found in our COVID-19 Resource Center. For more, sign up for our daily email.
0202 sputnik paper
BioCentury & Getty Images

Product Development

Sputnik V on par with other COVID-19 vaccines before and after boost

Feb 3, 2021 | 2:55 AM GMT

Phase III data in The Lancet revealed Russian COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V has efficacy on par with other leading vaccines across several groups: the full population, those who had not yet received a second dose, and the elderly.

The vaccine’s efficacy of 91.6% in the full population was reported in December by N.F. Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund. New data from the study showed it had 73.6% efficacy before administration of the second shot. The pre-boost data are based on 31 symptomatic COVID-19 cases that occurred between days 15 and 21 after the first dose, and is in line with the 72% efficacy in U.S. volunteers in J&J’s single-shot Phase III trial of JNJ-78436735, also an adenovirus vector vaccine.

JNJ-78436735 uses a serotype 26 (Ad26) vector, which is the same serotype used in the first dose of Sputnik V. The second dose of Sputnik V employs a serotype 5 vector (Ad5) and is delivered 21 days after the first. Both of Sputnik’s vectors, and J&J’s vaccine, encode full-length SARS-CoV-2 spike as their antigen. The heterologous design of Sputnik V is meant to avoid a decrease in efficacy from the second shot due to vaccine-induced antivector immunity.

Between doses, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine from Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) had 80.2% efficacy, and Comirnaty from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) had 52.4% efficacy. For both, the data include COVID-19 cases that occurred within the first 14 days of vaccination.

Also on Tuesday, an independent data monitoring committee recommended that CanSino Biologics Inc. (HKEX:6185; Shanghai:688185) continue a Phase III trial of its COVID-19 vaccine after single dose Ad5-nCoV met its prespecified interim primary safety and efficacy criteria; detailed data were not disclosed.

In volunteers who received both doses of Sputnik V, Tuesday’s paper showed 100% protection against moderate-to-severe COVID-19, which is the same as that reported for Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and higher than Comirnaty’s efficacy of 66.4%, although small case numbers may have skewed the latter’s result.

Created with

An outstanding question is how well Sputnik V will protect against B.1.351 (501Y.V2) and other SARS-CoV-2 variants that appear to be less sensitive to vaccines. Rates of infections by the variants started rising around December, and the reported efficacy for the Russian vaccine was based on COVID-19 cases that occurred before Dec. 14.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), which announced top-line Phase III data for JNJ-78436735 as a single-shot regimen on Friday, reported region-specific results showing lower efficacy in South Africa, where the B.1.351 variant causes the overwhelming majority of COVID-19.

Booster shots may ameliorate some of the lost protection against viral variants by increasing antibody production and amplifying T cell-mediated immunity.

Sputnik V is registered in 16 countries including Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Guinea and Tunisia. The Russian government is exploiting the vaccine’s low-cost manufacturing process and its storage temperate of 2-8°C to engage in vaccine diplomacy.

How to gain access

Continue reading with a
two-week free trial.