REVIEW - World Vaccine Congress Award To Moderna 'Not Neutral,' Reflects US Market Aspirations

BRUSSELS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 06th May, 2021) The award given by the World Vaccine Congress in Washington to Moderna as the best vaccine in the world was influenced by geopolitical and economic considerations, as the US aims to strengthen its position in the global vaccine market, COVID-19 experts told Sputnik on Thursday.

"I wouldn't give this award too much importance. The World Vaccine Congress has been in existence for almost 20 years and the institution is respected, especially across the Atlantic, but everyone must realize that geopolitics intervenes at this level," Marc Van Ranst, acclaimed virologist from the KULeuven university in Belgium, said.

According to the expert, Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and Sputnik V are reaching "unprecedented levels of efficiency of over 90%," which makes them rank the same in terms of efficiency, so "it does not make much sense to put Moderna or one of the other 2 in the lead."

Van Ranst stressed that this decision does not detract from the quality of other vaccines, and, for the most part, was dictated by purely economic reasons as the US attempts to position itself as the leader in the global vaccine competition.

"Expect the USA to defend their champions. This prize given to Moderna is probably mostly an economic decision," he added.

The opinion is shared by doctor Jean-Luc Gala, professor of immunology at the UCLouvain university in Belgium. He also believes that the award choice was politically and economically motivated as the results shown by all three vaccines in the short list are practically identical, at above 90% of efficiency which was never achieved before with conventional vaccines.

"One can suspect a bias of the Americans for their products. I don't think the awarding of this prize is neutral. This is arguably a reflection of international interests and partnerships," he said.

He expressed regret that there is no "pooling of knowledge" and each country "has pulled the blanket to themselves," politicizing the whole vaccination issue.

"Vaccines are also used as a diplomatic weapon in the rest of the world. There is of course commercial competition between laboratories, but also competition between world powers for leadership in the field of vaccines," Gala stated.

The professor also criticized the European Union's policies aimed at preventing the Russian vaccine from becoming one of the European options, despite the existing demand in several EU countries.

Last month, Russian vaccine developer, the Gamaleya center, found that post-Sputnik V mortality was much lower than that of foreign vaccines. For Pfizer, the average mortality rate per 1 million doses is said to be 39.4, for Moderna 20.2, and for Sputnik V it is only 2.

Sputnik V is the world's first registered coronavirus vaccine and has been approved for emergency use in over 60 countries across the globe. The efficacy of the vaccine stands at 97.6%, based on the latest analysis of data on the post-vaccination infection percentage among 3.8 million vaccinated Russians. It is higher than the 91.6% efficacy shown in an interim analysis from the trial published in The Lancet in early February.