Firstly, scientists at the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, in Moscow, devised a candidate vaccine that elicits a robust immune response, with reportedly no serious side effects in humans.
The Russian experimental vaccine, known as Sputnik V, uses a modified version of an adenovirus that causes the common cold. Denis Logunov, the study’s first author and head of the research lab at Gamaleya, explains how it works.
“When adenovirus vaccines enter people’s cells, they deliver the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein genetic code, which causes cells to produce the spike protein. This helps teach the immune system to recognize and attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Logunov says.
The researchers assessed the candidate vaccine in a small phase 1 and 2 trial that lasted 42 days and included 38 healthy participants aged 18–60.
At this point in the study, the scientists wanted to assess the experimental vaccine’s safety and its ability to elicit an immune response, rather than whether it can prevent infections with the new coronavirus.
The results showed a strong immune response in the participants. They developed antibodies and T cell responses, both of which are important in fighting off an infection.
The Russian candidate vaccine was also reported to be safe and did not elicit any serious side effects. Next, the team plans to enter phase 3 of the trial, which will involve 40,000 participants.