19:04 GMT19 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology will send three staffers to Rome to join their Italian colleagues in studies of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, Francesco Vaia, the medical director of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani (INMI), said on Sunday.

    "After signing a non-disclosure agreement, the Gamaleya Centre will send three researchers to monitor lab studies of the behavioral factors of the Sputnik V vaccine," Vaia told the Il Messaggero newspaper.

    The INMI medical director added that the institute would also consider the possibility of revaccinating research participants of the Italian-made vaccine developed by ReiThera biotech company.

    "The plan is to vaccinate part of the volunteers with ReiThera ... another part with Sputnik V ... and the third, last part with a dose of RNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna. This may help us understand if the second dose of ReiThera can be combined with a different type of vaccine," Vaia explained.

    On Saturday, the president of the central Lazio region, Nicola Zingaretti, said that the INMI was ready to start lab trials of the Gamaleya-developed Sputnik V once the relevant agreement was reached. The day before that, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he did not rule out that in the absence of coordination within the EU, the country would order the Russian vaccine.

    The study of Sputnik V vaccine's efficacy in the fight against different COVID-19 variants will be conducted without volunteers, as researchers will use blood samples from patients who have had the UK, Brazilian and South African coronavirus strains, the official noted, adding that these samples would also be sent to Moscow.

    In February, the INMI submitted a positive opinion to the Italian Ministry of Health regarding the efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine. The institute chief said that the country would send two inspectors to visit vaccine production sites in Russia.

    Sputnik V has already been approved for use in 54 countries. The prestigious Lancet medical magazine published a study in February, confirming the vaccine efficacy at 91.6 percent.

    COVID-19, Sputnik V, Italy, Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology
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