"The Russian Sputnik V vaccine works right here and now and we observe no complications"

Интервью на русском языке: http://pol-gdn.rs.gov.ru/ru/news/75673 

Tekst w języku polskim: http://pol-gdn.rs.gov.ru/pl/news/75673 

Fedor Lisitsyn: "The Russian Sputnik V vaccine works right here and now and we observe no complications"

A leading specialist of Gamaleya Federal Research Center for Epidemiology & Microbiology told Rossostrudnichestvo about the benefits of the current Russian vaccine against coronavirus

 - Vaccination in our country has been done for over 250 years. How did it happen in the Russian Empire and in the USSR?

The experience of the Russian Empire is ambiguous because we have had examples of both good and negative cooperation. For example: the whole story of smallpox vaccination. Catherine the Great inoculated herself and her son Paul, and then Alexander the First and his entire family were vaccinated. Then there was biologists’ collaboration with Louis Pasteur. The appearance of Pasteur stations is an extremely positive example. Our researchers worked in Paris, in the Pasteur laboratory. Foreigners came to us, we went to them. It was then that Nikolay Gamaleya showed himself well, at that time his career began and afterwards the institute will be given his name. Mikhail Morozov was the first to take photographs of the smallpox vaccine.

There is also unsuccessful experience of an anti-plague vaccine when Vladimir Khavkin, who was born in the Russian Empire, an outstanding virologist, the creator of the first vaccines against plague and cholera, was forced to leave the country at the age of 18 due to revolutionary events. But later, a team of Soviet scientists created a serum based on his one.

In the Soviet Union there were two examples of joint work with foreigners. These are bacteriophage therapy and polio vaccine. Our scientists worked in the 70s in France on various diseases, including Alzheimer's. A second example is the work on a polio vaccine. Operative coordination didn’t stop even during the "Iron Curtain" times. It all ended up in a complete triumph of science: the Americans figured out how to implement the scheme, and the first workable version, most importantly, a massively produced applicable vaccine was made in the Soviet Union. They brilliantly suppressed several outbreaks of polio in the Soviet Union and also in Japan and Chile. The vaccination scheme developed in the USSR was adopted in the USA. Presently, there are unfortunately two countries where poliomyelitis still remains - Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 - The Western press writes about the unreliability of the Russian vaccine.  What is your opinion as a specialist?  Are such publications justified?

They are absolutely unjustified for one simple reason. At the time these publications were made, there was no information whether this vaccine was harmful or not. All information about the damage and 128 side effects was taken from some unreliable or incorrectly translated reports.

- Why is our vaccine not accepted in the Western world, despite the fact that it has already been created, while the others haven’t done that yet?

Regulators in each country have a pure financial interest in supporting their country, their producer. Even WHO itself is highly dependent on foreign donations. If my memory serves me right, 17 percent of the WHO budget comes from national health committees, and the rest of the budget are donations.

- How competitive is our Sputnik V vaccine among its analogues, such as the Oxford vaccine ChAdOx1 or the vaccine of the Chinese company Sinovac?

The main advantage of Sputnik V is that it really exists, exists here and now. Unlike all the other remedies that someday may appear and start working. It can become a humanitarian tool. This is my own opinion - as a person who has worked in this field for 25 years. What matters is not the amount of funding, not the amount of the health care budget, but how skillfully you use it. American medicine is the most expensive in the world, the most theoretically advanced, able to rely on any foreign staff. When they need foreign minds, they easily invite them to their place. And despite this, the United States stalled in this coronavirus story. First, the Europeans - Italy and neighboring countries - suffered the shock of COVID-19, then America became the most affected country by the coronavirus amounting to almost 200,000 victims.

 - Have you registered any complications with those who were injected with the Russian vaccine against coronavirus?

Everything is working according to plan, there are no major complications. There are some non-serious effects, such as feeling tired after being vaccinated. At first, the vaccine was tested on humans at the second stage of clinical trials, now all nationalities in Russia are being tested. This vaccine is injected into a muscle, and everyone has them. And the thigh muscle works best.

 - You said earlier that you also want to take part in vaccination, what’s the procedure?

I got through. The process is simple. Sign up on the public service portal Gosuslugi, then go through the medical commission. And if a person is healthy, he can take part in the vaccination.

 Interviewed by Mikhail Rogov