New Delhi- Russia says it is the first to produce the vaccine for COVID-19 because the researchers decided to use an already proven and available technology instead of going into uncharted territory.
Since 2015, the Russian researchers were working on a two-vector approach and they persisted with that.
The idea is to use two types of adenoviral vectors — Ad5 and Ad26 — in the COVID-19 vaccine. In this way, they trick the body, which has developed immunity against the first type of vector and boost the effectiveness of the vaccine with the second shot using a different vector.
With its two-vector approach, Russia’s renowned Gamaleya Center had also developed and registered a vaccine against the Ebola fever.
The existing technological platform of adenovirus-based vectors made it easier and faster to create new vaccines by modifying the initial carrier vector with genetic material from new emerging viruses.
Human adenoviruses are considered some of the easiest to engineer in this way and therefore, they have become very popular as vectors. Since the start, all Russian researchers had to do was to extract a coding gene from the spike of the novel coronavirus and implant it into a familiar adenovirus vector for delivery into a human cell.
The Gamaleya Center had earlier used adenoviral vectors to develop vaccines against influenza and MERS. Both are in the advanced stages of clinical trials.
“These achievements show that Russian labs did not waste their time in the last few decades while the international pharmaceutical industry often underestimated the importance of new vaccines research in the absence of global health threats prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the statement.
Other countries are also developing adenoviral vector-based vaccines.
Oxford University is using an adenovirus from a monkey, Johnson & Johnson is using adenovirus Ad26 and China’s CanSino – adenovirus Ad5, the same vectors the Gamaleya Center is using.
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