Immunologist Professor Kingston Mills has described the Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik as very effective and said that he expected the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to authorise its use shortly.
Prof Mills told Newstalk that there were other vaccines available outside the Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines already approved.
Apart from Sputnik from Russia, there was also NovaVax from the United States and CureVac from Germany.
Sputnik appeared to have great efficacy, reportedly 92 percent, he said. The EU was not dragging their feet, they were completing a rolling review, looking at all the data and had not yet received an application for full market authorisation.
The current “spat” between Russia and the EMA was “a bit of a political thing” and he said he would be very surprised if Sputnik was not licensed soon. “It’s a very, very good vaccine.”
Prof. Mills explained that making vaccines was a highly complex and sophisticated process and that manufacturers did not have “barrels” of vaccine “sitting on shelves” while they were awaiting approval.
Some of the vaccines — AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — involved a ‘live’ virus which had to be grown. It was not a straightforward process and had to be grown under very stringent conditions, he explained.
All of the companies involved wanted to “crank up” production, but in some cases there were issues with supplies of the ingredients required to make the vaccine, such as reagents which had been in short supply for PCR testing too, he said.
Prof Mills said he believed the “teething issues” would soon be “ironed out” and more vaccines would be approved for use which would increase supply.