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14.01.2021
"Pfizer is an experimental product that they brought to market."
Doctor of Medical Sciences Dmitry Yedelev about the fundamental difference between Sputnik V and American vaccines

WHO is ready to help accelerate the certification process for the Sputnik V vaccine. However, a number of countries still exclude the possibility of purchasing Russian vaccines, preferring American ones. Is there a medical justification for this decision? And why do experts call Pfizer an experimental drug? We talked with Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Dmitry Edelev.

- The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a vaccine race. A number of countries, including the post-Soviet space, prefer American and German vaccines to Sputnik V. Why? Are they more reliable?

- There is such a childish joke "I will frostbite my ears to evil grandmother." Today the following situation occurs: the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" is the number one vaccine, which is easier to tolerate and which has a higher efficiency, it is easier to work with it, but everyone rushed after the Pfizer vaccine.

Let me remind you that Pfizer is the first vaccine  which has been created using messenger RNA technology. Previously, using this technology, vaccines were made only for animals, that is, it is a dog-cat vaccine. This vaccine has never been tested in humans. We can say that this is an experimental vaccine, the creators decided to train in humans after cats and dogs.

- Can we say that the technology is experimental? Can there be unpredictable side effects?

“This technology is absolutely experimental in relation to people, unlike the Sputnik V vaccine, the technology of which has been tested for 17 years on antitumor vaccines used in all countries of the world.

A total of about one and a half million vaccine injections have been made in Russia today. This is the first stage, now the second stage of mass vaccination has begun. Today in Russia there is not a single person with severe complications after the injection, there is not a single deceased person. Unlike Pfizer, where there are a lot of complications. We do not know how the American vaccine will behave in the future, since it is a technology that has not been studied at all on humans.

- According to the head of the Center. Gamaleya Alexander Gintsburg, the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" will protect against COVID-19 for two years, while the vaccine from the American company Pfizer - about four to five months. How can a Russian drug protect for a longer period?

“Since we have been working with Ad26 adenoviruses for 17 years, we know perfectly well how they behave and we know what to expect. Moreover, there are more than three hundred vaccines in the world today on Ad26, including the Ebola virus vaccine. Therefore, we can not even assume, pointing our finger at the sky, but clearly say that it will work for about 2 years, in contrast to the new experimental vaccine for humans, which is being made by Pfizer and BioNTech. Moreover, how much they will actually work, no one knows yet, because apart from experiments on animals and the first experiments on Europeans, including Lithuanians, there is nothing yet. I repeat, a messenger RNA vaccine is being used against humans for the first time in the world.

- Pfizer vaccine must be stored at about -70 ° C to maintain optimal potency. Sputnik V can be stored at temperatures between −2 and −8 ° C. What is the reason for the different temperature regime?

“Pfizer has not been able to create the same effective vaccine for humans as it does for animals that is stored at + 4 ° C. A vaccine for humans must be stored at extremely low temperatures - according to the passport, not lower than -80 ° C. It turns out that the Pfizer vaccine is some kind of raw product that they put on the market. Even the European country Lithuania could not comply with the temperature regime.

How, for example, can this vaccine be transported to the south of Italy, to warm Spain, Portugal? I am already silent about the African continent, where it is a huge problem to comply with the storage and transportation conditions for this vaccine. We know that a whole plane is specially made to bring Pfizer vaccine to Ukraine, because there are no planes capable of transporting this vaccine. That is, the plane must be especially re- equipped, namely, super refrigerators must be installed to transport the American vaccine.

- But if Sputnik V is a high-quality drug for coronavirus and its transportation is easier, why do a number of countries insist on purchasing American vaccines? How can this be explained?

This is, first of all, America's policy and pressure. The US is forced to buy their vaccine, which, by the way, is much more expensive than the Russian one. It's just making money.

Interviewed by Yulia Shanina

andre nyheder
Russisk Center for Videnskab og Kultur
Vester Voldgade 11, 1552 København, tel./fax (45) 33 15 83 33, email:

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