Russia appears to have faked trial results of its flagship Covid vaccine, according to an analysis.
A team of researchers in Australia and Singapore, who pored over the original study, have uncovered what they believe is proof the Kremlin fabricated efficacy data.
Russian scientists claimed the jab produced nearly identical results across five different age groups when the trial was published last year.
It sparked claims among some experts the results were ‘too good to be true’, given the tiny numbers of infections that occurred in each cohort.
Now researchers have run the trial through a simulation model 50,000 times to test the likelihood of the results being genuine.They found the chance of replicating the same efficacy across all five age groups again was just 0.02 per cent.
Hundreds of millions of people are thought to have been vaccinated with Sputnik worldwide. Around 70 countries had placed orders worth up to £7billion before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sputnik – which is based on the same adenovirus technology as AstraZeneca – was held up as being 92 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid infection following the phase three trial.
That was comparable with the Moderna (94 per cent) and Pfizer (95 per cent) vaccines and significantly higher than the AZ jab (79 per cent).
Dr Sheldrick and his team analysed the phase 3 clinical trials of all of Australia’s approved Covid vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, AZ, Johnson and Johnson and Sputnik.
In all five trials, people were split into two similarly-sized groups with one receiving a vaccine and the other being a placebo.
Vaccine efficacy was based on the rates of symptomatic Covid in the jab group compared to the control group.
The Russian vaccine had the fewest participants, with roughly 21,000, compared to the Western jabs which recruited as many as 45,000.
This is important, Dr Sheldrick told MailOnline, because fewer volunteers means efficacy rates can be skewed more easily.
Russian scientists also split the participants into five age groups, whereas the other vaccine studies kept cohorts limited to two or three.
‘Lots of people looked at the Sputnik trial at the time and thought it was very ballsy the way they designed it,’ Dr Sheldrick said.
‘Let’s say you have one infection in the 18 to 30 age group and an efficacy of 90 per cent, and then just one more person gets infected, now your efficacy can suddenly drop to 75 per cent, for example.
‘The numbers are so incredibly small that if one person gets a different outcome you can get massively different results.’
Yet all of the subgroups in Sputnik’s trial had an efficacy of more than 90 per cent, which Dr Sheldrick said was ‘too identical to be possible’.
Russian scientists from the Gamaleya Research Institute said it highlighted just how consistent the vaccine was, which Dr Sheldrick described as ‘ridiculous’.
As part of the new analysis, researchers gleaned vaccine efficacy figures and infection rates taken from every cohort across all five studies.
They then plugged them into a simulation model and ran the trials 1,000 times to see how often each study could produce the same combination of results.
The team were able to reproduce the Western vaccine results within two to four repetitions.
But they were not able to replicate Sputnik’s results in 1,000 attempts.
They then ran the Russian trial 50,000 times and found it took 3,846 attempts to achieve the same results.
Writing in the paper, the team said: ‘The distribution of alleged vaccine efficacies of the Sputnik vaccine by age in the phase-III trial is very unlikely to occur in genuine experimental data, even if the number of patients recruited, vaccine efficacy, and overall infection rate are true and there is no underlying difference in vaccine efficacy by age.’