Fedor Lisitsyn: "The Russian Sputnik V vaccine works here and now, we don't see any complications"

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Leading specialist of the Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology explains the benefits of the current Russian coronavirus vaccine in an interview with Rossotrudnichestvo

- Vaccinations in our country have been done for over 250 years. How did this happen in the Russian Empire and in the USSR ?

The experience of the Russian Empire is ambiguous, because we had examples of both good cooperation and negative ones. For example: the whole story of smallpox vaccination. Catherine the Great instilled herself and her son Paul, and then - the vaccination of Alexander the First and his entire family. Collaboration of biologists with Louis Pasteur. The appearance of Pasteur stations is an extremely positive example. Our researchers worked in Paris, in the Pasteur laboratory. Foreigners came to us, we - to them. Here Nikolai Gamaleya showed himself, who at that time began his career and after whom the institute was named. Mikhail Morozov was the first to take photographs of the smallpox vaccine.

There is also an experience, not very successful, of an anti-plague vaccine, when Vladimir Khavkin, who was born in the territory of the Russian Empire, an outstanding virologist, creator of the first vaccines against plague and cholera, was forced to leave the country at the age of 18 due to revolutionary events. But later, a team of Soviet scientists created a serum based on his serum.

In the Soviet Union, there were two examples of joint work with foreigners. These are bacteriophage therapy and polio vaccine. Our scientists worked in the 70s in France on various diseases, including Alzheimer's. A second example is the work on a polio vaccine. Coordination of work did not stop even under the "Iron Curtain". It all ended in a complete triumph of science: the Americans figured out how to implement the scheme, and the first workable version, most importantly, a mass-produced applicable vaccine, was made in the Soviet Union. They brilliantly suppressed several outbreaks of polio both in the Soviet Union and in Japan and Chile. The vaccination scheme developed in the USSR was adopted in the USA. Now, unfortunately, there are two countries where poliomyelitis still remains - Pakistan and Afghanistan.

- The Western press writes about the unreliability of the Russian vaccine, some even about the harm. What is your opinion as a specialist? Are such publications justified?

They are absolutely not justified for one simple reason. At the time these publications were made, there was no information whether this vaccine was harmful or not. All information about the dangers and 128 side effects was taken from some unreliable or incorrectly translated messages.

- Why is our vaccine not accepted in the Western world, despite the fact that it has already been created, and others have not yet?

Each country's regulators have a pure financial interest in supporting their country, their producer. Even WHO itself is highly dependent on foreign donations. If my memory serves me right, 17 percent of the WHO budget comes from national health committees, and the rest of the budget is donations.

- How competitive is our Sputnik vaccine  among its analogues, such as the Oxford vaccine  ChAdOx1  or the vaccine of the Chinese company Sinovac?

The main advantage of Sputnik  V is that it exists, exists here and now. Unlike all the others, which will someday be researched and then work. It can become a humanitarian tool. This is my personal opinion - as a person who has worked in this field for 25 years. What matters is not the amount of funding, not the amount of the health care budget, but how skillfully you use it. American medicine is the most expensive in the world, the most theoretically advanced, able to rely on any foreign staff. When they need foreign minds, they easily invite them to their place. And despite this, the United States stalled in this coronavirus story. First, the Europeans - Italy with neighboring countries - suffered the shock of COVID-19, then America became the most affected country by the coronavirus. Almost 200,000 victims.

- Are there any complications in the subjects who were injected with the Russian vaccine against coronavirus?

Everything is working according to plan, there are no major complications. There are non-serious ones, such as feeling tired after being vaccinated. First, the vaccine was tested in humans at the second stage of clinical trials, now all nationalities in Russia are being tested. This vaccine is injected into a muscle, and everyone has muscle. And the thigh muscle works best.

- Earlier you said that you also want to take part in vaccination, how is this process going ?

I got through. The process is simple. Sign up on the State Services portal, then go through the medical commission. And if a person is healthy, he can take part in the vaccination.

Interviewed by Mikhail Rogov

Photo: Samara Region