the scientific community doubts the lack of data

Vladimir Putin introduced Sputnik V, the world’s “first” vaccine against Covid-19. But caution is in order at the World Health Organization and this vaccine leaves several specialists skeptical. Message effect or real cure? Explanation Elements.

While several pharmaceutical companies have started a crazy race for the vaccine against Covid-19 for several months, Russia announced, through its president’s vote, that on Tuesday, August 11, it would have recorded “for the first time in the world a vaccine against the new coronavirus”.

The Gamaleya Research Institute, the origin of this new vaccine called “Sputnik V”, did not seem to be the most advanced in this field: its vaccine project was only in phase 1 (over three phases of development normally) according to the WHO list of 10 August of the 28 candidate vaccines sent for clinical trials.

Institut Pasteur, contacted by France 24, said it “could not shed any scientific light on this announcement” from Russia, with “no information” about this vaccine at present.

“No data”

“We can say very little about it because we know very little about it,” confirms Marie-Paule Kieny, a virology specialist, research director at Inserm and former deputy director of the WHO, contacted by France. 24. And she continues: “(As it stands) we know that this vaccine from the Gamaleya Institute is based on two products: an adenovirus type 26 – of the same type as the one used by the Janssen company – and an adenovirus type 5 – of the same type as that from the Chinese company CanSino. “

According to the research director at Inserm, “we have results published by Janssen and CanSino and based on these data we can believe that (” Sputnik V “) may have an efficiency level similar to other vaccines currently being developed.” Before we qualified: “But in the absence from the data, we can not stop deciding on either the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this vaccine. “

The World Health Organization has also been cautious following this announcement by Vladimir Putin, recalling that the “pre-qualification” and approval of a vaccine underwent “strict” procedures. “We have close contact with the Russians and the discussions continue,” said Tarik Jasarevic, WHO spokesman.

Quick approval of the vaccine process in Russia?

However, several specialists have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of this new vaccine. Patrick Berche, former head of the Institut Pasteur de Lille, for example explained on BFM TVthat “we absolutely can not say that a vaccine is effective without (first) having tested it. We can not say that a vaccine is interesting without having tested its toxicity”.

Isabelle Imbert, researcher at CNRS, appreciation in Le Parisiento the announcement by Vladimir Poutine, “it’s com! Promising a vaccine so quickly is extremely dangerous ”; And she asks: “Did they respect phase 1, high doses for too few people to verify the harmlessness, phase 2 during which the serum is injected into several hundred volunteers, then phase 3, where this time the tests concern several thousand people? “.

At this point, Marie-Paule Kieny gives a nuance: to save time in the search for a vaccine, which is currently against Covid-19, “the different stages (for example, phases 1 and 2) can be carried out in parallel rather than successively.” He added : “In some countries, there are faster approval procedures for vaccines, e.g. animals Rule in the U.S. The Russians may have developed such a homologation procedure. “

As for the opacity of the medical data behind the new Russian vaccine, the director of the Gamaleya Institute said on Wednesday that the results of clinical trials would be published when evaluated by Russian experts, according to Reuters.

“A race for public health and economic health”

In the absence of several scientific elements, it seems difficult to say whether “Sputnik V” really is the first vaccine against Covid-19. However, the political significance of this announcement is not in doubt: the name of the vaccine itself refers to the first artificial satellite launched in 1957, thus reminiscent of the space race launched by the United States. The United States and the Soviet Union during the 20th century.

“This is a clear political announcement at the international level to show that Russia is there and that it counts,” Marie-Paule Kieny explains. “We must also not forget the internal, national message in a country where government control measures have not yet made it possible to control the first wave of SARS-CoV-2.”

The vaccine race has a double interest, according to Armelle Charrier, international columnist at France 24, who explained on Tuesday / “The effort is significant: the person who has the vaccine will not only be the one who earns the most money but he will also have an extremely important aura. “And she specifies that every country, whether it is Russia, the United States or China, has its interests to find the solution first.

Putin announces the development of the first vaccine against Covid-19: the illumination of Armelle Charrier

Finally, Russia’s announcement is fully in line with this future race: “It is a race for public health and economic health,” concludes Marie-Paule Kieny. “Everyone thinks they will win the jackpot. So there will probably be more than one vaccine ”.