20:43 GMT17 May 2021
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    ROME (Sputnik) - Italy's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases (INMI Lazzaro Spallanzani) and Russia's Gamaleya National Centre signed a cooperation agreement that will allow Sputnik V vaccine trials to start in Rome, the institute's chief Francesco Vaia announced on Tuesday.

    The document was signed during a video conference between the top management of the two research facilities.

    INMI Lazzaro Spallanzani will study the Russian vaccine's effects on various strains of coronavirus and possibilities for booster vaccinations after AstraZeneca shots. Similar reviews are already being conducted for Pfizer and Moderna drugs.

    "The experiments have a double purpose. First, we will exchange biological material, in about ten days, to establish whether Sputnik can produce antibodies against coronavirus variants. In Italy we are especially concerned about the South African, Brazilian and British strains that are yet to be isolated in Russia," Vaia said.

    In return, INMI Lazzaro Spallanzani, which owns one of the biggest banks of viral agents in the EU with 120 live strains of SARS-CoV-2, will provide Gamaleya Center with samples of new coronavirus strains, including the B1.1.7 (UK), P1 (Brazil). and B.1.351 (South Africa).

    According to Vaia, the second part of the experiments will include administering the second shot of the vaccine in various combinations in four groups of 150 volunteers in total.

    "These are the people who received the first dose of AstraZeneca and are now feeling lost. They will be injected with Moderna, Pfizer and the two Sputnik variants, ad26 and ad25," he noted.

    Russian scientists will arrive in Italy within ten days after signing the agreement. The Italian side expects to receive 600 doses of Sputnik V, but further deliveries are a possibility.

    Vaia added that research on Sputnik V can begin after the approval from the Italian Medicines Agency, and that he has already discussed the issue with the head of the drug regulator, Giorgio Palu.

    The first results from the trials will be ready one month after administering the first dose, or two months since the beginning of the whole process, Vaia commented to Sputnik on Tuesday.

    INMI Lazzaro Spallanzani alongside other Italian medical experts have continuously supported the idea of using Sputnik V in the country.

    Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is approved for use in 60 countries with a total population of about three billion people. The vaccine efficacy has been confirmed at 91.6 percent by the data published in the world's leading medical journal The Lancet.

    Russia, Italy, Vaccine
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