Is Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine safe? Brazil’s veto of Sputnik V sparks lawsuit threat and confusion
Source: Science Magazine
A confusing and unusually nasty fight broke out this week over the safety of a Russian COVID-19 vaccine known as Sputnik V after a Brazilian health agency declined on Monday to authorize its import because of quality and safety concerns. The stakes escalated yesterday when the Twitter account officially associated with the vaccine said “Sputnik V is undertaking a legal defamation proceeding” against Brazil’s regulators.
In an online press conference several hours later, the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) defended its decision, maintaining that documentation from some of the Russian facilities making Sputnik V shows that one of its two doses contains adenoviruses capable of replication, a potential danger to vaccine recipients. The vaccine uses two different adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, to deliver the gene for the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVD-19. Both are supposed to be stripped of a key gene that allows them to replicate.
The Monday announcement left many scientists and media outlets believing Anvisa had directly tested Sputnik V for replicating adenoviruses, which would be unusual for a regulatory agency. But Anvisa has since clarified—it had not and was relying on information provided by the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the Moscow-based developer of the vaccine.