Siberian Healthcare Workers Who Were Given Sputnik V Vaccine Get COVID

Three healthcare workers in Siberia have tested positive for COVID-19 after being given Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.

Officials in the Altai region said the three were probably infected with the virus in the hours before they were given the vaccine, Amic.ru reported.

Irina Pereladova, chief epidemiologist of the Altai Territory, told the website that there is no guarantee that a person would not get sick after a single vaccination as they may already have the virus, but are in the incubation period before symptoms show.

The three medics had tested negative for virus antibodies a day before the first vaccine dose was administered. It is not standard procedure for people to be tested for the virus before being given the vaccine, Pereladova said.

"It's just that we decided to examine our Altai doctors before vaccination," she told Amic.ru. "In fact, a pure experiment took place."

According to The Moscow Times, officials had initially suggested the three workers had received a placebo, rather than the live vaccine.

In total, 42 healthcare workers in the Altai region have been given the Spudnik V vaccine since Russia started a campaign to vaccinate frontline workers. They had the first dose at the end of September and were given the second 21 days later, as per protocol for the vaccine.

All three have now recovered, Amic.ru reported. It said over 1,500 more doses of the vaccine will be sent to the Altai region by November 15 for frontline workers there.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine was the first vaccine against COVID-19 to be rolled out. The Phase 3 clinical trial to test its efficacy is still ongoing, although the health ministry recently announced early results to say it was over 90 percent effective against COVID-19. This claim came shortly after Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90 percent effective.

In a press release, the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is developing Sputnik V, said the vaccine was 92 percent effective. This calculation was based on 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 40,000 people who had taken part in the clinical trial.

It said the trials evaluated the efficacy of 16,000 people who were given two doses of either the vaccine or placebo.

"Separately, in September the vaccine was first administered to a group of volunteers from the 'red zones' of Russian hospitals," the statement said. "The observation of additional 10,000 vaccinated volunteers representing medics and other high-risk groups under the civil use of the vaccine out of clinical trials also confirmed the vaccine's efficacy rate of over 90 percent."

Data from the trial has not been made available, but will be published in a scientific journal once the phase 3 trial is complete, the press release said.

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A nurse preparing a dose of the Sputnik V vaccine in Moscow on September 10, 2020. Three healthcare workers in Siberia were diagnosed with COVID-19 after being given the vaccine. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images