AstraZeneca and Russian makers of Sputnik V to collaborate on vaccine trials

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(CNN) - Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is launching a joint clinical trial with the makers of Russian Sputnik V to test the combination of coronavirus vaccines, according to a statement published on AstraZeneca’s Russian website on Friday.

“Today we announce a clinical trial programme to assess safety and immunogenicity of combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and Sputnik V, developed by Russian Gamaleya Research institute. It will begin enrolling adults aged 18 years and older,” AstraZeneca said.

According to the British-Swedish drugmaker, a combination of the two coronavirus vaccines may help in generating “wider protection through a stronger immune response and better accessibility.”

Both vaccines are adenoviral vector vaccines that contain “genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein,” AstraZeneca’s statement added.

The Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) --which sponsored the development of Sputnik V -- said in a statement that they offered AstraZeneca the use of “one of the two vectors of the Sputnik V vaccine in additional clinical trials of its own vaccine,” which is expected to commence before the end of this year.

Russian vaccine Sputnik V uses human adenovirus, while AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 is based on 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 III trials are currently ongoing, the country is already moving towards mass vaccination with the head of Gamaleya Institute saying that over 150,000 Russians have been inoculated so far, according to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

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