UK-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Russian makers of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine during a video conference chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Joint clinical trials to test the combination of AZD1222, the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Sputnik V, developed by Russia's Gamaleya Research institute, will be part of this cooperation.
"In the nearest future, basically as we speak, the clinical trials are to begin. They will not require, as far as I understand it, large investments and won't take long, for the simple reason that the two technological platforms on which the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are build are fundamentally similar," the head of Gamaleya institute Alexander Gintsburg said in the video conference.
Russia's Sputnik V is an adenovirus-based vaccine, while AstraZeneca's AZD1222 is based on a chimpanzee viral vector.
Russia registered Sputnik V in August ahead of key large-scale phase III trials necessary to establish the vaccine's efficacy and safety. While phase 3 trials are currently ongoing, the country is already moving towards mass vaccination.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which sponsored the development of Sputnik V, also announced that Belarus became the first foreign country to register the Russian vaccine.
First doses of the vaccine will be distributed among Belarussians in January 2021, the country's health minister Dmitry Pinevich said, according to Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti.