In Russia, mass vaccinations against coronavirus will begin in a few days. Our colleague participated in the tests of “Sputnik V”. Why did you decide to participate, what is the procedure and what are the side effects? Here is his story, told by Deutsche Welle.
As early as September, candidates were recruited online: “Become a volunteer in testing the new Covid-19 vaccine.” At that time, there was not much information about the Sputnik V vaccine and there were not so many infections in Russia. However, at the end of November the situation changed radically – the number of newly infected increased sharply. My friends also got infected, and their condition was serious. This made me take risks and get involved in trials.
What they told me before I got vaccinated
On the website of the Moscow city authorities I found the form I had to fill out to take the test. He asked me if I had already been infected with the new coronavirus, if I had been in contact with an infected person in the last two weeks, and if I had a chronic illness. The health service announced that people who have already passed Covid-19 should not be vaccinated. A week later, I was told on the phone that I could go to the Shadkevich Hospital in Moscow for a preliminary examination.
There, the doctor first asked me if I had been taking any medication lately, she also wanted to know if I had any allergies and what surgeries had been performed on me so far. She handed me 16 pages of information material and briefly explained its contents.
The information said, for example, that the purpose of the study was to test the efficacy and safety of the Gam-KOVID-Vak test vaccine, better known by its trade name “Sputnik V”, and also to determine what immunity it produces. In pre-clinical trials, it was tested on animals such as hamsters and guinea pigs. They have proven both safety and effectiveness, while so far only safety has been proven in humans.
I learned that a total of 40,000 people will participate in the study: 30,000 people will be injected with the vaccine and 10,000 people will be given a placebo. The second dose of the vaccine is injected 21 days after the first. Volunteers are required to keep a diary of their condition. There are no other requirements. However, there is another parallel study in which the doctor offered me to participate. She explained to me that the main study did not examine one important factor – the ability of the vaccine to produce antibodies to neutralize the virus – ie. immunity This test is performed in the additional test. For participation in it, the state pays 8,500 rubles – about 93 euros. For this purpose, each volunteer donates 95 milliliters of blood. I decided to participate in this study as well.
Insurance policy for each participant
“Although participating in the study does not endanger you, there is special insurance for each participant,” the doctor explained to me. It says that in the event of death, the people I mentioned – in this case my parents – will receive two million rubles, ie. 22,000 euros. In case the vaccination leads to disability, they will receive – depending on the degree of disability – between 500,000 and 1.5 million rubles – ie. between 5,500 and 16,500 euros. And if it comes only to the deterioration of my health without disability, the compensation will be 300,000 rubles – ie. 3300 euros.
After I applied to be ready to take the test, I took a test for AIDS, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, as well as an AKP test and a coronavirus antibody test. My urine was also tested to see if there were any drug residues. After all my results turned out to be good, I was vaccinated.
Seven days later, it was my turn to get the vaccine. First I was registered, then I went through the four stages – giving blood for antibody test, vaccination, medical examination, rest in a special room.
The vaccine was stored in two refrigerators of the Russian company “Position” at minus 28 degrees. Such a refrigerator costs about 16,000 euros. And after they gave me the vaccine, I had to lie in the next room for half an hour because some of the volunteers had lower blood pressure after the vaccination. For me, however, such an effect did not appear. I was also told that I might have a fever later. In this case, I had to take paracetamol. I was also asked not to have children for the next three months because the effect of the vaccine on sperm had not yet been studied. They handed me a document that I had participated in the trial vaccination and sent me home.
What I felt after the vaccine
It was not until I got home that I read what other reactions there were to participants in the trial vaccines. Some of their messages were posted on social networks. Some people have had a fever and muscle aches on the day of the vaccine injection or the next day.
At seven in the evening, after I left work, I felt a headache, a slight chill, and dizziness, but I decided to recommend it after all the stories of the other participants I had read. Late at night, however, there was no longer any doubt that my body was responding to the vaccine. My temperature rose to 38.6 and my muscle aches got worse – it was all uncomfortable, but it still meant I got the vaccine, not the placebo. I took paracetamol as recommended, wrote down the symptoms in my digital diary and went to bed. The next day my temperature dropped to 37 degrees, and the next day there were no other side effects.
In three weeks I will be injected with the second dose of Sputnik V, and about 42 days after the first injection my body is expected to make antibodies. However, the question of whether these antibodies can effectively kill the virus has not yet been definitively answered.