Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hailed British drugmaker AstraZeneca's decision to test combining its own experimental COVID-19 vaccine with Russia's Sputnik V shot, as Moscow said the start of clinical trials was imminent.
Putin was speaking by video conference at a virtual event that saw AstraZeneca sign a memorandum of cooperation with Russia's Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund, and Russian drugmaker R-Pharm.Clinical trials, still under way, have shown Sputnik V has an efficacy rate of over 90%, higher than that of AstraZeneca’s own vaccine and similar to those of U.S. rivals Pfizer and Moderna.
Putin praised Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca's chief executive, who had dialed in by video conference.
"I want to single out your pro-active stance to achieve goals that are highly important, not just for your company, but in reality and without excessive bombast or exaggeration, for humanity," said Putin.
Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, told the event that clinical trials combining the Russian and British vaccines would start soon in three countries.
He did not name the countries, but mentioned some of them were in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.
Dmitriev has previously said Russia believes the combination will boost the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.