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Sputnik flies higher on the Covid-19 radar

Likely to be popular in developing economies

By Ricky Browne

Sputnik V has flown higher on the Covid-19 radar, as the Russian vaccine is now believed to have an efficacy rate of about 92 percent – putting it into the same orbit as the American vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna.

The vaccine was created by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and was registered on 11 August 2020 by the Russian Ministry of Health.

Sputnik V is making its presence felt

The vaccine was largely ignored up to recently, especially in the west, even though more than 1.5 million people had already received the vaccine, as it had not completed Stage III testing.

But that is now complete, and it indicates an efficacy rate of 91.6 percent – higher even than the largely-British AstraZeneca vaccine.

And now the vaccine has received its stamp of approval from the internationally-renowned medical journal The Lancet.

 “This is a great day in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is behind Sputnik V.

Dmitriev… this is a great day

“The data published by The Lancet proves that not only Sputnik V is the world’s first registered vaccine, but also one of the best. It fully protects against severe COVID-19 according to data which has been independently compiled and reviewed by peers and then published in The Lancet.

“Sputnik V is one of only three vaccines in the world with efficacy of over 90% but outperforms them in terms of safety, ease of transportation due to storage requirements of +2 to +8 degrees and a more affordable price. Sputnik V is a vaccine for all mankind,” Dimitriev said.

TECHNOLOGY

Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Sputnik V requires two doses. The cost of one dose is under US$10, making it more expensive than the AstraZeneca at US$3, but more affordable than the more high-tech Pfizer (US$20) and Moderna (US$25) mRDA vaccines.

Sputnik V uses a technology similar to AstraZeneca, where a common-cold virus is altered. Like the AstraZenneca vaccine, the Sputik V can be kept in regular refrigerators – not the ultra-low temperatures required by the American mRNA vaccines.

The Sputnik V vaccine

For more information on the Sputnik V vaccine read an earlier story here: https://matt-haycox.com/sputnik-v-marks-russias-moon-shot.

Unlike the other vaccines, Sputnik V uses two different vectors for its two shots. That method may give immunity of a longer duration than vaccines which use the same delivery mechanism for both shots. And that may open the door for greater collaboration with another vaccine such as AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile, tests are going on to see how effective the vaccine could be in combination with the largely-British AstraZeneca vaccine.

ROLLOUT TO NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES

Given its cost (relatively low), robustness and high rate of efficacy, the Sputnik vaccine is well-placed to become popular in the developing world, and could prove as popular if not more so than AstraZeneca.

Russia is likely to push the Sputnik V as a way of increasing its presence in the developing world, particularly countries in Africa.

Guinea President Alpha Conde Photo: Reuters

Indeed, the vaccine has already been introduced to Guinea, where 25 people, including the 82-year-old President Alpha Conde received the shots last week. Conde was reported to be one of Africa’s first leaders to receive a coronavirus vaccine. With its connections to France, it may have been expected that the country would have looked to Paris for its vaccine roll-out. But the French vaccine by Sanofi has not yet materialised, and the company is now expected to instead produce the Pfizer vaccine.

AstraZeneca is currently having problems in meeting the orders it has already received from the United Kingdom and the EU, and will therefore be set back in trying to reach people in the developing world.

Work goes on at the Gamaleya Research Institute

The Russians intend to produce 1.2 billion shots of the Sputnik V vaccine, enabling them to vaccinate at least 700 million people.

If it turns out that the vaccine works well in combination with AstraZeneca, it could have a further reach.

So far, Sputnik V is reported to have got regulatory approval in 16 countries while testing for the vaccine continues.

The most recent country to approve the Sputnik V vaccine is the former USSR state of Armenia.

 “The number of Russia’s partners among the CIS which have authorized the use of Sputnik V, is constantly increasing,” said Dmitriev on Monday.

“Today we announce the approval of Sputnik V by the Ministry of Health of Armenia enabling the country to start vaccination of the population with one of the best vaccines against coronavirus in the world. This vaccine cooperation will protect people’s health and will help to bring the country closer to lifting the restrictions imposed due to coronavirus,” he said.

The Sputnik V’s namesake

Other countries to have already approved it include:  Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea and Tunisia. These are all countries that can be said to belong to the Non-Aligned group of countries, without close alliances to the West or China for that matter.

Meanwhile several other countries are planning on introducing the vaccine, including: Kazakhstan and the Bosnian Serb Republic.

And it looks like Malaysia might also be lining up to get the vaccine.

For an earlier story on the top 7 vaccines, which includes Sputnik V, click here: https://matt-haycox.com/top-7-covid-19-vaccines-compete-for-leading-position/

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