Russia approves testing combination of Sputnik and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

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By Euronews  with AP
A medical worker shows vials with Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine
A medical worker shows vials with Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin

Russian health officials have approved testing a combination of the Sputnik V and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The Russian-developed jab will be mixed with the British-Swedish shot in a small study, according to the country’s registry of approved clinical trials.

The Ethical Committee at Russia's health ministry had suspended the approval process in May, and requested additional information.

But on Monday, the Russian Direct Investment Fund welcomed the decision to go ahead with clinical trials.

The research, which is set to end in March 2022, will enroll 150 volunteers and look at how a combination of the two vaccines triggers an immune response. The study will be conducted in five medical facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Fund added.

The developers of Sputnik V proposed combining the shots to AstraZeneca in November, suggesting it could increase the effectiveness of the British vaccine. AstraZeneca also announced a study to test the combination in December.

Both vaccines use similar technology, employing a harmless virus to deliver genetic material from the spike protein of COVID-19 into the body, which then prompts an immune response.

According to the official Twitter account of Sputnik V, the approval for the "vaccine cocktail trial" comes as similar studies are taking place in Azerbaijan, Argentina, and United Arab Emirates.

Researchers in Britain have also been testing whether combining AstraZeneca’s vaccine with other products, including the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, is safe and effective.

Early results have shown that combining AstraZeneca's jab with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produces a strong immune response.

The World Health Organization has said it’s likely that mixing and matching different COVID-19 vaccines probably works, but more data is needed to be certain.