UK and Russian scientists are teaming up to trial a combination of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines to see if protection against Covid-19 can be improved.
The trials, to be held in Russia, will involve over-18s, although it’s not clear how many people will be involved.
Oxford recently published results showing their jab was safe and effective in trials on people.
Russia was one of the first countries to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine, which it named Sputnik V after the Soviet-era satellite.
“Today we announce a clinical trial programme to assess the safety and immunogenicity of a combination of AZD1222, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Sputnik V, developed by Russian Gamaleya Research institute,” AstraZeneca said in a statement published on its website in English and Russian on Friday.
“Combinations of different COVID-19 vaccines may be an important step in generating wider protection through a stronger immune response and better accessibility,” AstaZeneca said.
Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which was involved in the development of Sputnik V, said in its statement on Friday that on November 23 it offered AstraZeneca “to use one of the two vectors of the Sputnik V vaccine in additional clinical trials of its own vaccine.”
Moscow announced the registration of Sputnik V back in August after it had completed the second phase of trials on less than 100 volunteers, raising concerns from scientists at home and abroad.
Analysts viewed the fast-track registration and the early launch of mass vaccination as an effort for Russia to bolster its geopolitical influence.
Several Russian allies – including India, Venezuela and Belarus – have said they would take part in clinical trials for the jab, while Kremlin-friendly governments have preordered more than a billion doses of Sputnik V.
Ignoring accusations by the United Kingdom of Russian-linked hackers targeting vaccine research, Moscow has said it is open to cooperation with Western countries.
The vaccine’s developers said it will be available on international markets for less than $10 per dose – and that it can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius (35.6-46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) instead of the temperatures far below freezing required for some other vaccines.