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Russia boosts production of its “Sputnik-V” vaccine

Russia is ramping up production of its “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine.

Binnofarm, which part of Russia’s AFK Sistema, is one of the companies producing the vaccine.

“Current capacities allow us to produce about 100-120 thousand component-1 and component-2 vaccines per month, about 1.5 million per year,” Binnofarm production manager Alexei Lysenko told Reuters on Friday (September 18).

Russia has said it expects to produce between 1.5 million and 2 million doses per month of its potential COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, gradually increasing production to 6 million doses a month.

The vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, is administered in two doses, with each based on a different vector that normally causes the common cold: human adenoviruses Ad5 and Ad26.

Some experts have said that using this delivery mechanism could make a COVID-19 vaccine less effective, since many people have already been exposed to the Ad5 adenovirus and developed immunity to it.

In China and the United States, about 40% of people have high levels of antibodies from prior Ad5 exposure. In Africa, it could be as high as 80%, experts have said.

Denis Logunov, one of the vaccine’s developers at the Gamaleya Institute, told Reuters the vaccine uses a strong enough dose of Ad5 to overcome any earlier immunity, without compromising safety.

The booster dose, based on the rarer Ad26 adenovirus, provides further support because the likelihood of widespread immunity to both types in the population is minimal, he said.

(Production: Maxim Shemetov, Peter Scott)

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